Connecticut the latest state to 'ban the box' on job applications

This article looks at how Connecticut recently banned questions about criminal records on job applications.

Having a criminal record can create a significant barrier to obtaining employment. There are an estimated 70 million adults in the United States who have been previously arrested or convicted, many of whom struggle to find employment despite being qualified. In an effort to provide these individuals with fair employment opportunities, nine states, now including Connecticut, have passed laws requiring employers to remove questions about criminal history on job applications.

No questions about criminal past

Generally, an applicant is required to check whether he/she has a prior criminal record on employment applications. However, effective January 1, 2017 in Connecticut, an employer is prohibited from asking about an applicant's prior arrests, criminal charges, or convictions on an initial employment application. There are exceptions when the employer is required to ask about the applicant's prior criminal record by law or when a security or fidelity bond is required for the position. Also, the employer still may inquire into the applicant's criminal history after the initial application period.

Ban the box movement

The Connecticut bill removing questions about criminal history from initial employment applications passed with ease, with 135 votes in favor and 8 votes against in the House and 35 votes in favor and 1 vote against in the Senate. Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont, as well as various cities throughout the United States, have also removed questions about criminal history on employment applications.

The Ban the Box campaign began in 2004 in an effort to challenge the stereotypes associated with individuals who have been convicted of a crime and to promote the hiring of employees based on ability rather than past convictions. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has released Enforcement Guidance on Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions and has advocated for employees who were denied employment on the basis of their criminal history. The campaign received the support of former President Obama, who advocated for banning the box on federal job applications to help formerly-incarcerated individuals reintegrate back into the community. The campaign has also received the support of various nonprofit organizations and legal aid societies through the nation.

Employment law help

The legal team at SFMS has significant experience with employment law matters. If you have any questions regarding this subject or this posting, please contact Nick Lussier (nlussier@sfmslaw.com) or Chiharu Sekino (csekino@sfmslaw.com). We can also be reached toll-free at (866) 540-5505.