Ban the Box Employment Laws Aren’t as Scary as you Think

Hiring can be a lengthy process filled with stacks of applications and resumes, phone calls, and decisions. While “ban the box” employment laws might seem to make it longer by changing up when you can screen for criminal histories, it’s worth it to get that extra protection from liabilities. Here’s why you shouldn’t be afraid of criminal background checks, and the “ban the box” laws that come with it.

Hiring can be a lengthy process filled with stacks of applications and resumes, phone calls, and decisions. While “ban the box” employment laws might seem to make it longer by changing up when you can screen for criminal histories, it’s worth it to get that extra protection from liabilities. Here’s why you shouldn’t be afraid of criminal background checks, and the “ban the box” laws that come with it.

What are “Ban the Box” Laws?

“Ban the Box” legislation removes the “box” on employment applications asking if an applicant has ever been convicted of a crime. Employment laws with “ban the box” initiatives aren’t anything new and have been around since 1998. Pro-“ban the box” advocates and politicians argue that asking about an applicant’s criminal records before an applicant has been interviewed or received a conditional offer of employment can lead to discrimination.

filling out a job application
filling out a job application

What are “Ban the Box” Laws?

“Ban the Box” legislation removes the “box” on employment applications asking if an applicant has ever been convicted of a crime. Employment laws with “ban the box” initiatives aren’t anything new and have been around since 1998. Pro-“ban the box” advocates and politicians argue that asking about an applicant’s criminal records before an applicant has been interviewed or received a conditional offer of employment can lead to discrimination.

How do I Comply with “Ban the Box” Laws?

The specifics of these laws oftentimes vary by state (and potentially even by city or county), so you’ll need to seek legal guidance regarding how your company should proceed. Generally, most laws restrict when you can ask a job applicant about their criminal history to either:

  1. During the interview process
  2. After a conditional offer of employment has been made

Most laws prohibit employers from asking about criminal records on the initial job application. Some prohibit advertising that criminal screening is part of your hiring process in the job listing as well.

Be aware that some state and local employment laws go a step further by restricting what type of criminal records can be considered reasonable for an offer denial. It also may detail steps you’d be required to take if something on the criminal report results in a denial. These two factors are the most varied state to state.

Why Should I Bother with Criminal Screening Potential Employees?

How do I Comply with “Ban the Box” Laws?

The specifics of these laws oftentimes vary by state (and potentially even by city or county), so you’ll need to seek legal guidance regarding how your company should proceed. Generally, most laws restrict when you can ask a job applicant about their criminal history to either:

  1. During the interview process
  2. After a conditional offer of employment has been made

Most laws prohibit employers from asking about criminal records on the initial job application. Some prohibit advertising that criminal screening is part of your hiring process in the job listing as well.

Be aware that some state and local employment laws go a step further by restricting what type of criminal records can be considered reasonable for an offer denial. It also may detail steps you’d be required to take if something on the criminal report results in a denial. These two factors are the most varied state to state.

large stack of files

Your employees don’t exist in a bubble, and your hiring process shouldn’t, either. Employment screening checks like criminal background scans, drug screening, and DMV record searches exist to help safeguard your company against potential threats not just to your business but you, your staff, and the people your staff comes into contact with. Removing criminal screening from your hiring process because it’s too bothersome is like refusing to have insurance. You might not get sick and need insurance – but why risk it? Criminal screening gives you that extra protection against potential liabilities, from a bruised reputation to a major, expensive lawsuit.

large stack of files

Why Should I Bother with Criminal Screening Potential Employees?

Your employees don’t exist in a bubble, and your hiring process shouldn’t, either. Employment screening checks like criminal background scans, drug screening, and DMV record searches exist to help safeguard your company against potential threats not just to your business but you, your staff, and the people your staff comes into contact with. Removing criminal screening from your hiring process because it’s too bothersome is like refusing to have insurance. You might not get sick and need insurance – but why risk it? Criminal screening gives you that extra protection against potential liabilities, from a bruised reputation to a major, expensive lawsuit.

How Do I Know my Criminal Screening is Effective?

The sign of a good employment screening provider is by how in-depth their criminal search is. First, they should be running both nationwide and county-level criminal searches, and the databases they’re using should be large, reputable, and pulled from multiple sources.

Secondly, your employment screening provider should have accurate matching. Because most criminal records will only include the applicant’s name and date-of-birth (in some cases, not even the DoB is provided by the court), it’s the duty of the information provider to ensure criminal reports are as accurate as possible. CIC does this with our ability to search for known aliases to uncover names (even known nicknames), addresses, and dates of birth. This minimizes the chance your job applicant hides something from you.

Quick Tip! Your employment screening is the most effective when the right checks are paired with the right job positions. CIC is the only employment screening company to offer packages tailored specifically for the rental housing industry.

Adjusting your hiring process to “ban the box” laws might seem like a hassle, but it’s worth it. As your company’s first line of defense, employment screening (specifically criminal screening) makes sure there are surprises. It allows you to know whether your hiring expectations are being met and helps avoid potential liabilities. You just got to make sure that criminal question box on your application is officially banned.

Do you screen for Why or why not?

How Do I Know my Criminal Screening is Effective?

The sign of a good employment screening provider is by how in-depth their criminal search is. First, they should be running both nationwide and county-level criminal searches, and the databases they’re using should be large, reputable, and pulled from multiple sources.

Secondly, your employment screening provider should have accurate matching. Because most criminal records will only include the applicant’s name and date-of-birth (in some cases, not even the DoB is provided by the court), it’s the duty of the information provider to ensure criminal reports are as accurate as possible. CIC does this with our ability to search for known aliases to uncover names (even known nicknames), addresses, and dates of birth. This minimizes the chance your job applicant hides something from you.

Quick Tip! Your employment screening is the most effective when the right checks are paired with the right job positions. CIC is the only employment screening company to offer packages tailored specifically for the rental housing industry.

Adjusting your hiring process to “ban the box” laws might seem like a hassle, but it’s worth it. As your company’s first line of defense, employment screening (specifically criminal screening) makes sure there are surprises. It allows you to know whether your hiring expectations are being met and helps avoid potential liabilities. You just got to make sure that criminal question box on your application is officially banned.

Do you screen for Why or why not?

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Becky Bower is the Content Strategist here at the CIC Blog. She holds a degree in English, with a focus in creative writing, from CSU Channel Islands. Her biggest weakness is cake and favorite superhero is Batman.

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