States: Enactment of Ban-the-Box Legislation & Potential Fines Continue to Affect Background Screening

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“It is critical that companies and organizations review their background screening strategies as the calendar folds into 2015,” Adam Almeida, President and CEO of states. “Based on continued changes with ban-the-box legislation, companies must review background screening policies to ensure compliance with existing and new legislation governing background screening, and the use of criminal background records.”

Criminal Background Records

Criminal Background Records

Ban-the-Box legislation is the most pervasive change to background screening and will continue to be a big issue into 2015. Now is the time to review employment screening policies.

The “Ban-the-Box” movement continues to gain strength and momentum, and as the calendar turns toward 2015 now is the time for companies and organizations to review critical and important background screening policies and procedures. As business slows down a bit in December there is time for a serious review process of background screening policies as related to ban-the-box initiatives.

“The end of the year is a great time for HR Departments to review their screening policies. And with new “Ban-the-Box” legislation being enacted the legal and lawful use of criminal background histories will continue to fall into question. It should be noted that failure to comply with ban-the-box legislation can and will bring about a fine.”

Recently, in Minnesota, challenges to comply with ban-the-box legislation have created a firestorm of complaint and potential legal action.

From The Star-Tribune (; Nov. 17, 14)

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights has investigated complaints involving the job applications of more than 50 companies and in the majority of cases found applications violating the ban-the-box law, according to data obtained by the Star Tribune. (1)

As the state of Minnesota examined these complaints, fines were levied.

From The Star-Tribune (; Nov. 17, 14):

Companies have 30 days to change their applications after getting an initial warning letter, and then face of a fine up to $500 a month. (2)

Recently St. Petersburg has enacted ‘Ban-the-Box” legislation, joining other Florida cities with this type of legislation.

And ban-the-box legislation continues to take root across the country.

From St. Petersburg (Fox 13; Oct. 22, 2014):

St. Petersburg joins Tampa and Jacksonville in "banning the box" as Florida municipal employers. According to the National Employment Law Project, Florida is among 17 states banning the box in a piecemeal fashion. Thirteen other states have adopted ban the box laws. (3)

Ban-the-Box legislation dictates when criminal histories can be requested and reported during the employment screening process. Applications typically have a box accompanied by a question asking about a criminal history. Banning the box literally takes that box off of the application. Subsequently, criminal history reports can be pulled after an initial offer is made to an applicant. The belief is that eliminating the criminal history question will allow more applicants to make it past the initial application review.

Adam Almeida adds; “The whole process can be confusing. Working with a third-party background screening company can greatly assist a company in understanding when this process is allowed.”

In St. Louis “Ban-the-Box” legislation has been enacted. The process of application review is explicit.

From the Missouri Times (October 14, 2014):

…the City screens applicants on a case-by-case basis. For convicted felons, the City considers the specific circumstances, the nature of the crime, how long ago it occurred, and how it might reflect on the candidate’s qualifications for the specific job under consideration. (4)

Of course there are perceived challenges with the “Ban-the-Box” movement.

From the Columbia Daily Tribune (Oct. 17, 2014):

… a conditional offer is usually made after an interview. Only being able to do a background check after an offer is made can cause an employer to rescind an offer and might be costly because, among other reasons, the company might start training new hires before the background check comes back. (5)

Regardless the real or perceived challenges, “Ban-the-Box” legislation will continue to test employers.

Almeida adds: “Ban-the-Box legislation is the most pervasive change to background screening and will continue to be a big issue into 2015. It is critical that companies and organizations understand this legislation, how if effects their business, and what could happen if they fail to comply.”

These recent changes to hiring laws in St. Petersburg and St. Louis highlight the continued change in the legal and lawful use of criminal histories.

Almeida states: “Work with a third-party background screening company to stay compliant with ‘ban-the-box’ legislation as well as all other changes that will continue to affect the use of criminal background checks.” is a third-party background screening company that remains current and up-to-date on all legislation governing the use of public records in background screening. With highly trained operators, can assist companies and organizations large and small with all their background screening requirements, and assist in compliance with all laws, including ban-the-box legislation.


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Dan Adams
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