Efficacy of Ban-the-Box Laws Challenged, Heightened Opportunity for Law Change Highlighted, opines CriminalBackgroundRecords.com

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Ban-the-Box laws have existed in the United States for several years and have spread across several states and municipalities, but the efficacy of these laws has recently been challenged in new studies. Adam Almeida, President and CEO of CriminalBackgroundScreening.com offers his opinion: “Ban-the-Box laws have greatly altered the environment in which criminal background records are reported during a pre-employment background check and recent challenges to the effectiveness of ban-the-box laws will certainly create further confusion thereby highlighting an immediate and urgent need for employers to work with third-party pre-employment background screening agencies in order to maintain full compliance with law.”

Criminal Background Records

Criminal Background Records

While one study may not predict the future of Ban-the-Box legislation or long-term efficacy it does point to the potential of further confusion over the fair, legal, and lawful use of criminal records

For the last several years Ban-the-Box laws and legislation have been enacted in several states and a variety of municipalities but have recently come under fire by academic studies. Adam Almeida, President and CEO of CriminalBackgroundRecords.com opines: “Laws change very quickly and these recent studies covering the efficacy of Ban-the-Box legislations may certainly point to a new round of legal challenges and changes in laws that very well could affect hiring managers and their pre-employment background screening policies.”

Ban-the-Box laws are designed to reduce and/or eliminate discrimination amongst minority groups during the hiring process. By removing the question of “Criminal History” the playing field for a given position is presumably leveled. However, a recent study out of academia appears to challenge that notion.

From BizJournals.com (Aug 08, 17):

Minority job applicants face increased discrimination when employers are unable to inquire about prior criminal history, according to a new study.

More than 25 states have “ban the box” (BTB) laws, which outlaw the application checkbox where job applicants disclose prior convictions. The intent is to allow those with criminal records to be judged on qualifications rather than a criminal past.

But the laws are having the opposite effect, according to a new paper titled “Ban the Box, Criminal Records, and Statistical Discrimination.” The research indicates the legislation has caused an increase in discrimination where job interviews are concerned. (1)

Almeida opines: “Discrimination is a challenge in the workplace, especially within hiring. Creating an equal environment of consideration is critical.”

Ban-the-Box legislation is designed to increase equality but with the enactment of these laws employers are falling back into other ways of “judging” applicants. The study has shown that:

…the race gap in interview callbacks grew dramatically after a BTB policy went into effect.

Before BTB, white applicants received about 7 percent more callbacks than similar black applicants. After a BTB policy went into effect, white applicants were 45 percent more likely to get called into an interview than a black applicant. (2)

Almeida adds: “While one study may not predict the future of Ban-the-Box legislation or long-term efficacy it does point to the potential of further confusion over the fair, legal, and lawful use of criminal records as part of a fair and equal pre-employment background check.”

Additional research seems to show similar results.

From an interview with Jennifer Doleac, an economist at University of Virginia studying crime and discrimination at qz.com (Jul. 24, 17):

Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that ban the box policies don’t work. In fact, an emerging body of research suggests that they may have harmful unintended consequences. Not only do the rules appear to intensify racial discrimination in hiring, they don’t seem to be helping job applicants with criminal records. (3)

Almeida concludes: “Studies such as these indicate and highlight an urgent need for all hiring managers to work with a well-qualified third-party pre-employment background screening company in order to stay compliant with law. With any dramatic shift or potential shift in policy law can change very quickly. Hiring managers need to stay aware and engaged by utilizing a pre-employment background screening agency.”

CriminalBackgroundRecords.com is a third-party background screening company with highly trained operators well versed in the needs and requirements of companies and organizations large and small utilizing public records, such as criminal background checks, as part of a hiring process. Assisting companies in maintaining full compliance under the law is a central tenet of all client relationships with CriminalBackgroundRecords.com

(1)    bizjournals.com/newyork/news/2017/08/08/ban-the-box-laws-backfire-hurting-black-job.html
(2)    ibid…
(3)    qz.com/1023279/an-economist-explains-why-stopping-employers-from-doing-criminal-background-checks-doesnt-really-help-anybody/

Further reading:
Ban the Box, Criminal Records, and Racial Discrimination: A Field Experiment
The Quarterly Journal of Economics, qjx028
Published: 02 August 2017

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Dan Adams
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