“Ban the box” refers to eliminating the box on job applications that require applicants to disclose whether they have been charged with or convicted of a crime. Typically, ban-the-box legislation restricts employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history until after the application process. Some ban-the-box laws further restrict criminal history inquiries from being made until after a conditional job offer is made. The new Mississippi law is the first we have seen that un-bans the box.
Senate Bill 2689 prohibits all local governing authorities in the state from passing any law, ordinance, or rule that would interfere with an employer’s ability to become fully informed about the background of an employee or potential employee. It permits employers to conduct background checks of employees and applicants for the purposes of maintaining a fair, secure, safe, and productive workplace. The new law voids any law, ordinance, or rule that creates requirements, regulations, processes, or prohibitions that in any way interfere with employers’ rights granted under the bill.
Most of the ban-the-box laws regulate when employers can obtain background information, and what information they are permitted to use, as well as what additional information they must consider. The Mississippi law does not speak to what, when, or how employers may seek or use background information. It only grants employers to right to become fully aware of the background of an employee or applicant for the purpose of maintaining a fair, secure, safe, and productive workplace. Applicable federal law will still prevail over this state law. Therefore, to the extent that federal anti-discrimination laws would prohibit consideration of criminal history, those federal laws remain in effect in Mississippi.
There are currently 22 states with cities or counties that have adopted ban-the-box laws. Now there is one state with an un-ban the box law. We will continue to follow ban-the-box laws and report our findings to you. Visit the backgroundchecks.com Compliance Hub website to view past ban the box updates:http://www.backgroundbiz.com/compliance/regulatory-archive.html
The new law goes into effect on July 1, 2014, and is available here: http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/documents/2014/pdf/SB/2600-2699/SB2689SG.pdf
About Michael Klazema The author
Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based backgroundchecks.com with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments