Criminal History Check Update: A Look at Current Laws

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More states, cities, and municipalities are opting to “ban the box” and bar public employers from asking about job applicants’ criminal histories on initial applications and paperwork. (It’s permissible to do so after the job has been offered if it’s relevant to the applicants’ position.) It’s a way to ensure that ex-offenders are given a fair shake in the job market. Since California put their own nation-leading “ban the box” ruling into place last year, many other states and regions have followed.

Here’s a look at the most recent states and what they are doing to further protect applicants:

  • In June 2018, St. Louis County officials announced the county will no longer ask job applicants for criminal histories in their initial employment applications,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  • With an executive order signed in May, Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer “banned the box” for people who apply for executive branch jobs with the state. “It provides applicants with the opportunity to explain their unique facts and circumstances and what has happened to them and how their lives have changed,” said Governor Colyer.
  • On March 13, 2018, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee signed the Washington “Fair Chance Act,” which prohibits employers from asking about arrests or convictions before an applicant is determined otherwise qualified for the position sought. With both California and Oregon on board with “ban the box,” this means the practice is law on the entire U.S. West Coast.
  • Also in June, Johnson County, Iowa passed a ban the box ordinance that removes the requirement for applicants to initially disclose any criminal history.
  • Massachusetts already has ban the box rules in place, but on October 13, 2018, further restrictions on employers’ ability to consider a job applicant’s criminal history information in the hiring process will take effect. Among other rules is a decreased time period for disclosure of misdemeanor convictions by applicants from five to three years.

Private Employers Step Up Background Checks

At the same time, states and municipalities are making rules to protect applicants, some private employers like Uber are stiffening the requirements for background checks for applicants. Private companies (like Uber) have settled legal cases alleging faulty practices and a lack of thorough checking for sex offenders, in particular.

Hire a Professional Background Check Company

As an employer, how do you ensure you’re not running afoul of the increasingly complex rules and regulations, but also protecting your business and your existing employees? Third party agencies such as DataCheck help employers navigate the complex rules and regulations around compliance and privacy laws such as “Ban the Box,” while protecting both applicants’ rights and employers’ best interests.

Contact DataCheck today for professional pre-employment services such as criminal background checks that protect your workers and your business from identity theft, fraud and negligence.

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