The “box” in ban the box refers to the question on job applications that asks applicants whether or not they have ever been convicted of a crime. Ban the box laws require employers to remove this question, as well as any other queries about criminal history ,from job applications. Ostensibly, ban the box laws seek to prevent employment discrimination against individuals with criminal records. The idea is that an employer gets a chance to form an initial impression of each applicant’s current character before the employer reacts to the fact that the applicant has a criminal history. With no questions about criminal history on the job application, and with background checks delayed until late in the hiring process, an ex-offender will theoretically have a better chance of being viewed as “the best person for the job.
However, most ban the box legislation places other restrictions and other requirements on employers. For instance, some states prohibit employers from inquiring about arrests, dismissed history, sealed records, or history in a diversion program. Some ban the box laws restrict employers from inquiring about criminal history until after the first interview or until a conditional offer of employment is made. Some jurisdictions require employers to consider other factors, such as, time-related restrictions or whether the criminal history is job-related.
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