The ban-the-box movement is a hot topic in human resources. State and city lawmakers across the country are making moves to eliminate the box on job applications that asks if an applicant has a criminal record. The idea is that by eliminating the question so early in the application process, people with criminal records will be able to get farther in the hiring process and be better able to show off their abilities before a prospective employer finds out about their past.
The laws don’t prevent employers from doing background checks and learning this information before making a hire, but many employers won’t even interview a candidate who checks “yes.” Proponents of the ban-the-box movement say removing the box will give ex-offenders a better chance of securing employment and getting on with their lives. Opponents are worried about employer liability and the potential for discrimination lawsuits.
This week’s HR Outsourcing News Roundup brings you articles and blog posts with the latest information and analysis about the the ban-the-box movement.
Ban-the-Box Movement Goes Viral. SHRM: “The ban-the-box movement has gone viral, remarked Angela Preston, vice president of compliance and general counsel at background screening firm EmployeeScreenIQ. ‘The removal of this little check box has potentially made life easier for job seekers with a criminal past, but it has created much confusion and frustration for employers,’ she said. ‘Ban the box shows no signs of slowing down, and it’s creating new headaches, not to mention real risks, for employers across the country.’”
Evaluating a Job Applicant’s Background History. Workforce: “Do Not Use Mere Arrests as a Basis for Rejecting an Applicant. The criminal justice system presumes that individuals are innocent until proven guilty. Using arrests with no other information can disproportionately affect people of different races and ethnic backgrounds. The EEOC is especially skeptical of employers that reject qualified candidates solely because of past arrests. In many states, using arrests as a basis to deny employment is illegal.”
POLL: Do You Think Employers Should Use Background Checks? PBS: “Employers and screeners say the checks are an important tool for reducing liability for negligent hiring. Advocates for background checks also say these screenings help keep the workplace safe – preventing, for example, a sex offender from being hired at a nursery school. But the practice has come under fire from those who say it can lead to discrimination and decreased job opportunities for the 70 million Americans who have some type of criminal conviction. Advocates argue that a past infraction doesn’t automatically mean someone is not qualified, and hiring more people with a conviction could reduce crime and recidivism.”
Growing ‘Ban the Box’ Movement Impacts Hiring Practices. Business News Daily: “Lester Rosen, founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources, said it’s clear that Ban the Box is becoming a national trend and one that will soon affect all types and sizes of employers.’It is clear we are near a tipping point,’ Rosen said. ‘The best advice is to adjust to it and move forward.’ Rosen believes the law is not only good social policy, but also makes practical sense. In his eyes, eliminating convicted criminals from the outset doesn’t necessarily benefit employers.”
Employer Concerns About Liability Loom As Push for Ban-the-Box Policies Spreads. Bloomberg BNA: “Many employers continue to push back against blanket approval of ban-the-box policies, arguing that they have an obligation to keep workplaces safe and avoid negligent hiring or employment discrimination claims. In some cases, they are working with advocates to hammer out a proposal that holds appeal for both sides. ‘The potential for lawsuits, that’s really what this is about,’ Jack Mozloom, a spokesman for the National Federation of Independent Business’s New England and mid-Atlantic region, told Bloomberg BNA July 31. ‘Most of these proposals we’ve seen make it easier for employers to be sued on the basis of some discriminatory action if they refuse to hire people with a felony record,’ he said. ‘That’s an enormous danger for small business owners.’”
If you have more questions about background checks and other hiring practices, please contact us. Our team is happy to share its expertise with yours.
HR Solutions is a human resources outsourcing firm based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We eliminate human resources headaches for businesses with 10 to 1,000 employees by handling their payroll, employee benefits, regulatory compliance and other staffing needs. Contact us to learn how we can streamline your company’s human resources function to save money and reduce risk.