Colorado Is Considering A Ban The Box Law​

January 29, 2019
Two attempts to pass similar bills failed. This bill, which is intended to help people with a criminal history to be seen by employers, is expected to be approved.
Backgrounds Online | January 29, 2019

Two attempts to pass similar bills failed. This bill, which is intended to help people with a criminal history to be seen by employers, is expected to be approved.

About The Proposed Bill

According to an article in a Colorado-based publication, nearly 1.8 million residents of the Centennial state have criminal records. For many of them, finding employment might be difficult. One reason for this could be that some employers place questions about criminal records on job applications. If an applicant has ever been convicted, they are asked to check a box.

People who check this box are unlikely to receive consideration. Employers tend to discard these applications without reviewing factors such as whether or not the person is qualified, if the conviction was for something minor or how long ago the offense occurred.

To help residents who have minor and/or outdated criminal records, the proposed bill seeks to prohibit Colorado employers from asking questions about arrests or convictions on applications. A member of the Colorado Center on Law and Policy who supports this bill wrote a memo that said many people who have a record “later deal with perpetual unemployment and income instability for themselves and their families.”

The proposed bill is intended to help people who have a criminal history be seen by employers. This can be beneficial on both sides. Job seekers gain more opportunities to find work. Employers enjoy a larger pool of applicants. Proponents of Ban the Box laws believe they are good for the community because they help lower crime rates and recidivism.

Additional Requirements For Colorado Employers

This bill also seeks to disallow employers from writing job descriptions that suggest people with criminal histories may not apply. Exceptions would be made for positions in which applicants are automatically disqualified for any type of conviction. Such provisions are common for law enforcement and positions that deal with vulnerable populations including children or the elderly. Otherwise, this would stand for most job openings in the private and public sectors.

While there are multiple Ban the Box laws throughout the county, they vary in scope and detail. The Colorado bill may create additional requirements that employers must follow to remain compliant. Our team will watch the progression of this bill. If it passes, you can learn all the relevant details in our State Law section.

Previous Ban The Box Attempts

The Colorado legislature presented similar bills in 2016 and 2017. Both were dismissed by the Senate. Due to a notable number of Senate turnovers during the 2018 elections, however, officials in Colorado believe the third attempt will likely be successful.

If the bill passes, Colorado would join multiple states that have passed Ban the Box laws. It was filed by Representatives Leslie Herod and Jovan Melton. Herod said this of their efforts: “All we’re trying to do is ensure that people aren’t automatically screened out for a mistake they made in their past and that they’ve paid their time for. This will allow them to sit next to an employer one-on-one and say, ‘Here’s what I did in my past, here’s who I am now and here’s how I plan to move forward.’ Ban the Box will give them that opportunity.”

Takeaway For Employers

Ban the Box and other “Second Chance” laws are becoming increasingly common throughout the United States. Even if no law is active where you operate, best practice is to be ahead of the curve and follow some of the commonly issued regulations. These include not asking about criminal records on applications, always running criminal background checks on candidates you are considering, and evaluating convictions individually to determine if they are serious and relevant enough to disqualify the person.

Ban the Box laws encourage employers to run comprehensive background checks. They typically require employers to do this following an interview or conditional job offer. When you have applicants you need to screen, please contact us. Our experienced team can help you build background check packages that are perfectly customized for every position. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm.