The Cost Of Breaking Ban The Box Laws

July 02, 2019
Are you complying with Second Chance laws where you operate? If not, your organization could be subjected to fines.
Backgrounds Online | July 02, 2019


Are you complying with Second Chance laws where you operate? If not, your organization could be subjected to fines.

Ban The Box Laws In The U.S.

The Second Chance Movement has led to a significant number of Ban the Box laws being implemented throughout the United States. While these laws are not consistent, the purpose is always to help Americans who have old or minor criminal records find employment. That basic necessity was not always easy.

In the past, many employers asked applicants to check a box if they’d ever been arrested or convicted of a crime. Most employers would immediately discard applications if that box was checked. They did not learn what the conviction was for, how long ago it occurred or other relevant factors.

To help Americans who are not security risks and are in need of employment opportunities, the Ban the Box movement calls for the removal of questions about arrests and convictions from job applications. Numerous states, cities, counties and employers have adopted this policy. Employers that operate in locations where a Ban the Box law is active are asked to hold off on inquiring about criminal records until after they conduct an interview or extend a conditional offer.

Doing this gives job seekers an opportunity to show their qualifications and eligibility. It also gives employers a larger pool of candidates and helps reduce the rate of recidivism. People who are unable to obtain employment due to something that happened long ago may become desperate and feel they have no choice but to commit crimes just to get by.

D.C. Employers Fined For Ban The Box Violations

Washington D.C. passed a Ban the Box law in 2014. Since then, more than 1,800 charges have been filed against employers for alleged violations. During that time, employers have been fined nearly $500,000.

Most of the charges were claims that employers continued to ask questions about criminal records on their job applications. Some alleged that employers asked about convictions during an interview.

Every claim was investigated. A report was compiled about these complaints and their outcomes. While specifics are confidential, it showed that charges were made against everything from small businesses to multinational organizations. If a Ban the Box charge is not settled, a DC employer can be fined up to $5,000.

Mónica Palacio, the Director for the Office of Human Rights spoke about why this report was made. She said: “We wanted to show that the law had been quite effective in getting hundreds of employers who were out of compliance into compliance. We wanted to set the record straight.”

What Employers Should Know

Ban the Box and other Second Chance bills have been passed all over the U.S. Violating these laws could result in complaints and fines. Every employer should maintain written hiring and background screening policies that include details about complying with relevant laws. Employers that operate in multiple locations should be aware that they may be regulated by more than one Ban the Box law. Consult your legal counsel for advice.

Backgrounds Online provides a variety of educational resources to help keep you aware of background screening laws and best practices. When you’re ready to run background checks, we can help you create a fair and transparent process for everyone. Contact us for expert assistance. We are available Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.