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State and Local ‘Ban the Box’ Laws: Inquiries Into an Applicant’s Criminal History

Lexology (09/16/14) Fred W. Alvarez; Eric S. Dreiband; Brian M. Jorgensen; et al.

New Jersey, Illinois, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, recently joined several other states and cities in adopting “ban the box” laws prohibiting private employers from asking applicants about their criminal history until a certain point in the process. Sixty-seven cities and counties and 13 states have such provisions on the books. Advocates say these laws help remove the stigma from job applicants who have criminal convictions. Many employers oppose the provisions, arguing that they have an obligation to provide a safe workplace. This Lexology commentary examines laws in Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, and also offers suggestions about compliance.