Indiana is first state to bar local 'ban the box' ordinances

Dive Brief:

  • Indiana has barred all local ban-the-box ordinances, becoming the first state to do so, SHRM reports. Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a state Senate bill that prohibits local governments from passing ban-the-box laws, the way Indianapolis did in 2014.
  • According to SHRM, Indiana signed the law to help employers with statewide operations avoid the difficulty of complying with varying hiring procedures and mandates.
  • Ban-the-box laws prohibit employers from asking job applicants about past criminal convictions until an interview is held or a job offer is made. The purpose is to keep ex-convicts from being stigmatized and discriminated against in the recruitment and hiring process.

Dive Insight:

Indiana is so far the only state to bar local ban-the-box ordinances, but such preemption laws are gaining traction for a variety of employment issues, including minimum wage and paid leave. The laws are supposed to provide a measure of stability to employers in the state and ensure local laws don't create a patchwork of conflicting policies statewide.

However, Indiana could end up being the “lone wolf” in prohibiting ban-the-box; the policy is reportedly gaining bipartisan support, according to Bloomberg BNA. So far, Utah is the 25th and latest state to adopt a form of a ban-the-box law for government jobs. More than 150 cities and counties nationwide are impacted by such laws.

A 2008 survey cited by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) shows that over one in four adults have a criminal record of some sort. This sobering statistic could mean that ban-the-box laws not only help applicants with past convictions get jobs, but also could help close skills gaps that hurt employers.

Filed Under: Recruiting HR Management Legal