"Ban the box" is a movement that has occurred in more than 20 states and 150 cities and counties over the past several years to remove the question asking, "Have you ever been convicted of a crime (felony or misdemeanor)." For State of Ohio and public sector employees, this has been in effect since May 2015. The picture below illustrates the many states with "ban the box" laws currently in place (source: Government Executive).
The goal of "ban the box" laws is to give individuals a fair chance in the pre-employment process without being automatically excluded due to their past criminal history. Only after an interview and a background check was conducted would the information come to light and a determination would be made whether the criminal history truly impacts the job. Obviously, certain crimes would be exclusionary, especially if the position directly deals with children or the elderly.
So what should employers know:
1. First, determine whether your city, county or state has one of these laws in effect.
2. Do you have a policy or procedure in place to address handling convictions/background checks in the pre-employment process?
3. Has your employment application language been updated to be compliant?
4. Who makes the determination to exclude applicants/candidates? Is the decision reviewed or documented?
5. Is a clean criminal history a requirement of the job? If so, is it also in compliant with the EEOC's 2012 criminal history enforcement guidance?
Now is a good time to review your pre-employment process to make sure you're compliant for 2017.