• LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+

Box banned? Better update hiring policy

Get PDF file

by on
in Hiring,Human Resources

If you operate in a jurisdiction that has “banned the box”—made it illegal to ask about criminal histories on employment applications—you have no doubt updated your application forms and other hiring paperwork. That’s the easy part.

Now it’s time to take it one step further. Revamp all your hiring policies to ensure that applicants are never asked about criminal histories until after you have issued a conditional offer of employment. Then you need protocols for making hire/don’t hire decisions if you do discover that someone has a criminal history. Otherwise, you may be courting a lawsuit.

Now that ban the box has become relatively widespread, more and more applicants with criminal histories are likely getting through the initial application process and are offered jobs contingent on a background check.

If you intend to bar otherwise qualified applicants because they have criminal records, make absolutely sure that you are doing so for specific, job-related reasons—and make sure you can articulate those reasons.

Reason: Rejected applicants who sue have a built-in advantage, since you have already made an offer. That means you considered them qualified.

Case in point: SEPTA, the Philadelphia transit authority, offered a bus driver job to a man but then reneged when he revealed that he had been arrested 20 years earlier for an alleged drug offense.

He sued, claiming SEPTA routinely uses irrelevant and ancient criminal records to screen out otherwise qualified workers. Among his allegations: that SEPTA violated a 35-year-old Pennsylvania statute designed to offer a second chance to people who have come into contact with the criminal justice system. The law says that only misdemeanor and felony convictions—not arrests—can be used to deny employment, and then only if they relate to the applicant’s suitability for employment.

Remember: Individuals with certain criminal convictions may be barred from holding jobs involving contract with children or other vulnerable persons.

Leave a Comment