New Ban-the-box Laws Highlight Urgent Need to Review Background Screening Policies, States

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Effective January 1, 2015 the State of Illinois and the city of Saint Petersburg will enact new Ban-the-Box legislation that will mandate when the legal and lawful use of criminal histories can be used during the course of a pre-employment screening. Adam Almeida, President and CEO of states: “The continued changes in background screening law, such as ban-the-box legislation highlight the urgent need for companies and organizations to utilize third party background screening companies for compliancy in background checks.”

Criminal Background Records

Criminal Background Records

Ultimately, continued change to laws governing employment screening, such as Ban-the-Box legislation, highlights an urgency to maintain compliancy with current screening policies and, subsequently, avoid penalty.

Every year hundreds of laws are enacted across the country and cover a broad array of legal entities. From immigration law to a law in Nevada over the potential suspension of license to driver’s under 18 that miss too much class, one constant remains: Laws will continue to change the legal landscape. Ban-the-Box legislation will continue to force review of legal and lawful employment screening practices and illustrates the urgent need to conduct a thorough review of all current background screening policies in order to remain compliant.

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of, states: “As ban-the-box legislation continues to gain momentum companies and organizations must review their current pre-employment background screening policies to ensure they remain compliant. Companies that are not compliant face potential legal action.”

On January 1, 2015 Illinois joined a growing number of states with Ban-the-Box legislation. Ban-the-Box laws legislate when and where criminal histories are allowed to be reviewed. Essentially the box that used to appear on application inquiring about Criminal History has to be eliminated.

From USA TODAY, featured on (Jan. 01, 15):
Illinois prohibits private employers with 15 or more employees from asking about a job applicant's criminal history until he or she has had a chance to sit for an interview or gotten a conditional job offer. The so-called "ban the box" law refers to the box that many applicants must routinely check if they've been convicted of a crime. (1)

More specifically the Act defines that failure to comply with legislation is punishable by law.

From (Dec. 29, 14):

Alleged violations of the Act will be investigated by the Illinois Department of Labor and violations will result in progressively substantial civil penalties. (2)

Oftentimes cities engage legislation governing the use of criminal background checks when states fail to act or move at a pass slower than a city might find acceptable. On January 1, 2015 the City of Saint Petersburg enacted Ban-the-Box legislation.

One aspect of the Illinois and St. Petersburg legislation is that they only cover city and/or state hiring and do not currently affect the private sector. However, companies such as Target and Home Depot, have instituted a Ban-the-Box policy within each organization. The lack of uniformed legislation can lead to confusion.

From an article posted to covering the January 1, 2015 law: (Oct. 21, 14)

The change in city policy will affect only city jobs. It does not mandate private sector jobs to follow suit. The policy also will not exclude background checks for city jobs and they will still be mandated for any public safety positions. Those checks will just be looked at later in the process. (3)

Ultimately, continued change to laws governing employment screening, such as Ban-the-Box legislation, highlights an urgency to maintain compliancy with current screening policies and, subsequently, avoid penalty.

Almeida states: “The time is now for companies and organizations large and small to review their background screening policies in light of continued laws legislating the use of Criminal Records as a part of the pre-employment vetting process.” is a third party background screening company with a highly trained staff ready to assist companies and organizations with expanded requirements as mandated by law. Further, can assist in the review and formulation of fully compliant background screening programs.


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Dan Adams
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