The employment screening industry is in the news once again after two states made high-profile moves that have major implications on the hiring process. The motivations behind these moves are to help alleviate the baggage that often comes with black marks in a person’s past. Here’s a breakdown of the bills that are making waves and what we can expect in their wake.

First up, Oregon. The state is aiming to join 16 other states who have banned the box. The measure, nationally referred to as
‘Ban the Box,’ forbids employers from asking job applicants about their criminal backgrounds on job applications. The question is usually included on applications and people are required to check ‘yes’ if they’ve been convicted of a criminal offense.

The bill prevents employers from considering or inquiring about an applicant’s criminal record before an interview or before making an employment offer if there was no interview.

The bill doesn’t, however, prevent employers from asking about criminal records during interviews.

The Ban the Box movement is incredibly important for people with criminal records who are trying to re-establish careers. And there are a lot of them. Seventy million men and women in the United States have been arrested or convicted of a crime that will show up in a background check. Evidence strongly suggests that there is a direct correlation between having a criminal record and the likelihood of being unemployed. Pending charges offer an entirely different problem.

Backers of Ban the Box say it helps people wishing to re-enter society have an easier time getting a job and housing – two of the
most difficult things for ex-cons to establish. People against Ban the Box say the process is already happening organically – Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Home Depot Inc. – and that eliminating the question and placing restrictions on what and when employers can ask about a criminal record just muddies the waters even worse.

Members of the state House voted to Ban the Box, now the bill goes before the state Senate.

New York also amended its Human Rights Law by banning credit checks on job candidates. The new law virtually eliminates the use of credit history as a qualifier for employment for employers in the City. The idea is that a person’s financial history and/or responsibility has no bearing on their ability to perform many jobs, including teaching. Previously, a national bill was introduced that would have eliminated credit checks for virtually all jobs (except for security positions).

In this law’s case, credit history includes not only a consumer credit report or credit score, but information directly obtained from the applicant or employee regarding his or her prior bankruptcies, judgments, or liens, or number of credit accounts, late or missed payments, charged-off debts, items in collections, credit limit, or prior credit report inquiries. There is a litany of positions for which the ban does not cover. Among them are certain finance and public safety positions. Teaching is not included. For the full list, click here

NYC joins ten states and two municipalities in restricting the use of credit history for purposes of employment. NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio signed the bill last week and it will take effect in September.

What do you think of the bills? Leave a comment below.


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