Ban the Box Intro
Nationwide, almost 70 cities and counties – including New York City – have now taken the critical step of removing unfair barriers to employment in their hiring policies. Widely known as “ban the box,” these fair-hiring initiatives typically remove the question on the job application about an individual’s conviction history and delay the background check inquiry until later in the hiring process.
In 1998, Hawaii had the distinction of becoming the first state to adopt this policy of removing conviction questions from job applications – and according to research done by American Journal of Criminal Justice, has had great success. Momentum for the policy has grown exponentially, particularly in recent years. Just in 2013 and 104, eight states passed legislation.
Today, with the addition of Delaware, Nebraska, and New Jersey in 2014, there are a total of thirteen states representing nearly every region of the country that have adopted the policies – California (2013, 2010), Colorado (2012), Connecticut (2010), Delaware (2014), Hawaii (1998), Illinois (2014, 2013), Maryland (2013), Massachusetts (2010), Minnesota (2013, 2009), Nebraska (2014), New Jersey (2014), New Mexico (2010) and Rhode Island (2013). Six states – Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey and Rhode Island – have removed conviction history question on job applications 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) endorsed removing the conviction question from the job application as a best practice in its 2012 guidance for employment decisions considering arrests and convictions.
Citing public safety benefits and supporting economic vitality, policymakers have included fair chance hiring reform as part of a more comprehensive effort. For example, jurisdictions have also adopted hiring policies modeled on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance that requires the employer to demonstrate that the conviction records restrictions are directly related to the job and that applicants are individually assessed for the position.
In an era of extreme mass incarceration, fair chance campaigns provide a platform to educate the public about the stigma of a criminal record and the real consequences to our society depriving millions of Americans with past convictions of economic stability.
As California clergy leaders explained in an 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.”
This resource guide documents the 13 states, Washington D.C and the 69 cities and counties that have taken steps to remove barriers to employment for qualified workers with records. Of special signifcance, six states, Washington D.C and 20 cities and counties now extend the fair chance policy to government contractors or private employers. Of the localities, Baltimore, Buffalo, Newark, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Rochester, and Washington D.C extend their fair chance laws to private employers in the area.
To support your state and local efforts to enact a fair chance policy, check out NELP’s Fair Chance – Ban the Box Toolkit, which provides a step-by-step guide for advocates on how to launch a “ban the box” campaign. Embedded in the Toolkit is a range of resources to draft a law, to build your network, to support your outreach, and even to develop your media outreach.
For additional information, contact Michelle Nativdad Rodriguez at [email protected]
Click below to view more information about the “Ban the Box” Fair Chance Policy