What are Ban The Box Laws?
A recent wave of state and municipal laws aimed at removing the checkbox on job applications that asks if an applicant has a criminal history, Ban the Box legislation prevents employers from automatically disqualifying potential candidates who may have a criminal record. The purpose of the legislation is to allow ex-offenders the opportunity to display their qualifications during the hiring process before being preemptively barred from certain jobs due to their criminal history.
34 states and over 150 cities nationwide have passed some form of Ban the Box or “fair-chance” legislation.
Over 75% of the US population lives in an area with Ban the Box legislation.
See the table below for more information on state and city ban the box laws.
|State||Major Municipalities||Who is affected||Notes|
|Arizona||All state agencies||Criminal record checks allowed only after initial interview|
|California||Employers with five or more employees||Starting January 1, 2018, criminal background inquiries are prohibited until after a conditional job offer|
|Compton||All contractors doing business with the city||Background check allowed only after conditional job offer|
|Los Angeles||Any employer in the city with 10 or more employees||Effective January 22, 2017, criminal history questions are allowed only after a conditional job offer|
|Richmond||Private employers with 10 or more employees that contract with city||Applies regardless of where the employer is based|
|San Francisco||Effective October 1, 2018, applies to employers with 5 or more employees (replaces prior threshold of 20 or more)||Bans criminal inquiries, or requiring disclosure of conviction history, until a conditional job offer has been made|
|Connecticut||All private employers|
|Hartford||Any contractors doing business with the city||Background checks allowed only after a conditional employment offer|
|New Haven||Any contractors doing business with the city||Background checks allowed only after a conditional employment offer|
|District of Columbia||All employers with more than 10 employees||Background checks allowed only after a conditional employment offer|
|Hawaii||All private employers||Criminal history inquiries not allowed prior to a conditional employment offer|
|Illinois||Private employers with 15 or more employees||No criminal history inquiries prior to job interview, or until after conditional job offer if no interview occurs|
|Chicago||Private employers with less than 15 employees||Bans criminal history questions prior to job interview, or until after conditional job offer if no interview occurs|
|Cook County||Private employers with less than 15 employees||Mirrors Chicago's criminal history ordinance|
|Indianapolis||Any contractors doing business with the city||Criminal history questions not allowed until after first interview|
|Louisville||Any contractors doing business with the city||City prefers vendors that ban the box on job applications and may terminate contracts with those that do not|
|Baltimore||Any employer with 10 or more employees||Criminal records checks or inquiries not allowed until after a conditional job offer has been made|
|Montgomery County||Any employer employing 15 or more persons in the county||Criminal history questions or background checks not permitted until after first interview|
|Prince George's County||Any employer with 25 or more full-time employees in the county||Criminal history questions or background checks not permitted until after first interview|
|Massachusetts||All private employers|
|Boston||Any contractors/vendors doing business with the city|
|Cambridge||Any contractors/vendors doing business with the city|
|Worcester||Contractors/vendors doing business with the city|
|Detroit||Any contractors doing business with the city when contract is for $25,000 or more||No criminal conviction questions until contractor interviews applicant or determines applicant is qualified|
|Kalamazoo||Contractors providing services to the city for more than $25,000 or those seeking tax abatement||Must show commitment that they don't use criminal history to discriminate in employment|
|Minnesota||All private employers|
|Columbia||All employers within city limits||Criminal history questions prohibited until after a conditional job offer is made
|Kansas City||All private employers with six or more employees||No criminal history inquiries until after job interview|
|New Jersey||Any employer with 15 or more employees over 20 calendar weeks||Includes provision preempting local laws, most notably this supersedes a Newark law which applied to employers with five or more employees|
|Buffalo||Private employers with 15 or more employees and all contractors doing business with the city||Criminal history questions banned on initial job applications|
|New York City||All employers with four or more employees||Criminal inquiries prior to conditional job offer are prohibited|
|Rochester||All employers with four or more employees and contractors doing business with city||Criminal history inquiries prohibited until after initial job interview or conditional job offer|
|Syracuse||All city contractors||Criminal inquiries prior to conditional job offer are prohibited|
|Oregon||All private employers|
|Portland||Any employers with six or more employees||Asking about or accessing criminal records before conditional job offer is prohibited|
|Philadelphia||Employers with at least one employee in the city||Criminal background checks prohibited prior to conditional job offer|
|Pittsburgh||Any contractors/vendors doing business with the city||Criminal history inquiries banned until applicant is deemed otherwise qualified for a position|
|Rhode Island||All employers with four or more employees|
|Tennessee||Law prohibits cities and counties from extending state ban the box law to private employers|
|Austin||All employers with 15 or more employees||Criminal history questions or criminal background checks banned until conditional job offer has been made|
|Vermont||All private employers|
|Washington||All private employers||No arrest or conviction questions (or criminal background checks) before job applicant is deemed otherwise qualified for a position|
|Seattle||Employers with one or more employees||"Legitimate business reason" required to automatically exclude applicants with arrest or conviction record|
|Spokane||All private employers||No criminal history questions prior to a job interview|
|Madison||All contractors doing business with the city on contracts worth more than $25,000||Criminal history questions and background checks prohibited until after conditional job offer|
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