A criminal record is such a stumbling block to employment that many states, cities and counties are passing laws to remove the question from applications for government jobs. Increasingly, some are forcing private employers to ban the question, too, Stateline reports. This year, Delaware and Nebraska have passed legislation to “ban the box” from application forms for most state, city and county jobs. In the past five years, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Minnesota and Rhode Island and the District of Columbia have banned the box for most state jobs. Hawaii was the first state to ban the box in 1998.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal plans to ban the box from applications for most state jobs by executive order as soon as next month. More than 60 cities and counties have adopted similar laws for government employment. Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Rhode Island have extended the ban to include private employers. Some big employers, such as Wal-Mart and Target, also have banned the box. Ban-the-box laws don't prevent employers from rejecting applicants because of their criminal pasts. They typically prohibit asking the question or running a criminal background check until the first or second interview or until an offer is made. The goal is to prevent employers from blackballing people based on their criminal background. “You're not required to hire anyone,” said Michelle Rodriguez of the National Employment Law Project. “This is about letting people get their foot in the door, and not being automatically disqualified.”