Many states, counties and cities have enacted laws limiting an employer’s right to ask a job applicant about his or her criminal record. These so-called “ban the box” laws are aimed at removing barriers to employment for people with criminal records. Employers in locations with ban the box rules should remove questions about criminal history from job applications and postpone such questions until later in the hiring process.
While the rules vary from location to location, most laws require a legitimate business reason to ask about criminal history, and then the questions may be asked only after a conditional job offer is made to the applicant. A legitimate reason will be found if the criminal history has a direct relation to the employee’s fitness or ability to perform his job.Employers should be familiar with the ban the box rules of their state. In locations with such rules, employers should not ask about criminal past unless it can be clearly shown that criminal record directly relates to the position for which the individual wishes to be hired.