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New Ban the Box Laws

ban the boxWhile most of the world has been wrapped up on all things COVID related, there is still work going on regarding background check laws. From December 2019 until as recently as July 1, 2020, new ban the box laws have been enacted.

Grand Rapids, Michigan
While the State of Michigan allows employers to ask applicants about their criminal history, the city of Grand Rapids has put a Human Rights Ordinance in place that makes asking about criminal history a discriminatory practice. This ordinance was put into place December 1, 2019.

This ordinance requires employers to ensure that using or considering any arrest and/or criminal records are for a bona fide occupational qualification. They must also consider if the reason for the arrest or conviction records would constitute a risk to the “health, safety, or welfare of other employees or persons or to property.”

Waterloo, Iowa
As of July 1, 2020, the City of Waterloo enacted a Fair Chance Initiative which bans the box. This ordinance reads as follows:

“In connection with the employment of any person, it shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer to engage in any of the following activity:

1) To make any inquiry regarding, or to require any person to disclose or reveal, any convictions, arrests, or pending criminal charges during the application process, including but not limited to any interview. The application process shall begin when the applicant inquires about the employment being sought and shall end when an employer has extended a conditional offer of employment to the applicant. If the applicant voluntarily discloses any information regarding his or her criminal record at the interview, the employer may discuss the criminal record disclosed by the applicant.

2) To make an adverse hiring decision based solely on the applicant’s record of arrests or pending criminal charges.

3) To make an adverse hiring decision based on any criminal records which have been lawfully erased or expunged, which are the subject of an executive pardon, or which were otherwise legally nullified.

4) To make an adverse hiring decision based on an applicant’s criminal record without a legitimate business reason.”

State of Maryland
Effective February 29, 2020, the Criminal Records Screening Act was enacted.

This act covers employers in the state of Maryland with 15 or more full-time employees. Employers must wait until after the first in-person interview before asking an applicant about their criminal history.

Keep in mind that some locations within the state, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and Baltimore City, have more restrictive ordinances already in place. Employers must follow the more restrictive laws.

St. Louis, Missouri
This city will enact its ban the box ordinance effective January 1, 2021.

As a reminder, there are 13 states that have already enacted ban the box laws that apply to private employers:








New Jersey

New Mexico


Rhode Island





The District of Columbia also has a ban the box law.

As you can see the list of locations with ban the box laws is constantly changing, and it is important for employers to keep up on the laws.

Additional ASE Resources
ASE Background Screening - ASE can help you create an ongoing background screening program. For more information please contact Susan Chance.  Refer a friend and save $50!








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