Controversial Issue: Asking About Prior Criminal Activity During Hiring Process

Nationwide, Over 50 Cities and Counties—Including New York City—Have “Ban The Box”

In 1998, Hawaii had the distinction of becoming the first state to adopt ban-the-box.

Momentum for the policy has grown exponentially, particularly in recent years. Just in 2013, four states have passed legislation and a fifth state embraced ban-the-box through an executive order. Today there are a total of ten states representing nearly every region of the country that have adopted ban-the-box policies—California (2013, 2010), Colorado (2012), Connecticut (2010), Hawaii (1998), Illinois (2013), Maryland (2013), Massachusetts (2010), Minnesota (2013, 2009), New Mexico (2010), and Rhode Island (2013). Of these ten states, four states—Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Rhode Island—have banned the box for private employers, which many advocates embrace as the next step in the evolution of these policies. Federally, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) last year endorsed ban-the-box as a best practice in its guidance for employment decisions considering arrests and convictions.

Citing public safety benefits and supporting economic vitality, several jurisdictions have leveraged ban-the-box as an opportunity to adopt comprehensive reform. For example, jurisdictions have also adopted hiring policies modeled on the EEOC guidance that require the employer to demonstrate that the criminal records restrictions are directly related to the job.

As California clergy leaders explained in a recent op-ed, “It’s not just about fairness for people with records—it’s also good for [the] economy and for the safety of our communities to ensure we’re maximizing job opportunities for everyone.”

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