- Removing questions about a job applicants’ criminal past, or the ban-the-box movement, is gaining national support, Bloomberg BNA reports. Ban-the-box laws forbid employers from asking about candidates’ criminal records when the hiring process begins and from discriminating against them in the process.
- The ban’s purpose is to keep applicants with criminal backgrounds from being stigmatized and ultimately locked out of the workforce. James Reidy, a partner at Sheehan Phinney Bass & Green, said at a recent SHRM conference that 92% of employers perform background checks on some job candidates. He said 24 states have ban-the-box laws, along with 16 counties and cities.
- Maurice Emsellem, program director of the National Employment Law Project Program, told Bloomberg BNA that ban-the-box has bipartisan support among lawmakers. He said that one-in-three adults has a criminal record.
Ban-the-box laws require employers to be neutral about criminal records and focus on convictions rather than arrests, unless the arrest is relevant to the job. Taking this approach reduces the risk of unfairly eliminating an otherwise appropriate candidate for the position.
If applicants bring up their criminal records during interviews, employers may ask about the charges’ circumstances. This allows employers to probe further into the candidate's record, especially for sensitive positions.
Criminal justice statistics show that African- mericans and Hispanics are arrested and convicted more often than whites for the same infractions and therefore can benefit from ban-the-box legislation.
Besides adopting ban-the-box, The Urban Institute recommends that employers first have and vigorously enforce anti-discrimination policies. Some employers are even removing names from resumes that could reveal applicants' race, ethnicity or gender and expose them to discrimination in the hiring process.