Should Texas join the burgeoning movement, known as “Ban the Box,” that would prevent employers from asking potential employees about their criminal conviction history?
The movement has already swept through 13 states. Cities and counties in 25 different states and Washington, D.C. have all passed Ban the Box legislation. In Texas, Austin and Travis County both have Ban the Box policies.
In many cases, the laws only affect public employers, but private employers have more recently begun to embrace Ban the Box laws.
Would Ban the Box Laws Prevent Employment Discrimination?
A 2011 National Employment Law Project (NELP) report showed that 65 million Americans – or one in four adults – have a criminal record that would show up on a routine background check. This number has risen to 70 million more recently. These individuals can face harsh hiring prospects as a result of arrests or convictions on their criminal records. Ban the Box laws would give ex-offenders a better shot at meaningful employment. Additionally, these laws will not require businesses to hire convicted criminals – Ban the Box would simply shift the question of previous convictions to a point later in the hiring process.
Critics decry the policies as wasted time and money. They believe that the check box for past criminal convictions allows businesses to avoid a lengthy background check process for an employee who is up front about his or her criminal history. However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has come out as a supporter of Ban the Box laws for all employers, on the grounds that blanket bans on new hires with criminal records constitute employment discrimination.
The best practice, according to the EEOC, is to remove criminal history questions from all job applications, saving them for later in the hiring process. They also suggest that employers demonstrate that the criminal convictions in question are related to the job at hand before denying potential employment opportunities to applicants.
Atkerson Law – Dallas Employment Attorney
Did you know? In 1998, Hawaii became the first state to ban the box as applied to both public and private employment.