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Indiana Governor Signs Executive Order to Ban the Box

By Michael Klazema on 5/4/2017
Job searchers looking for work in Indiana’s public sector will no longer be expected to answer questions about their criminal history on job applications. Per a report from Eagle Country Online, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb has signed an executive order that bans the box for jobs with the state government.

Per the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group that fights for employment rights for low-wage workers, Indianapolis maintained the only ban the box policy in the state before Holcomb’s executive order. The state’s capital previously banned the box for both public jobs and contractor roles. Illinois, Indiana’s neighbor to the west, has a law on the books that bans the box for all employers in the state, reports note.

Holcomb’s executive order makes Indiana the 27th state to ban the box on the statewide level. When Holcomb signed the order, coverage notes, he also approved Senate Bill 312. This piece of legislation bars cities and counties throughout the state from implementing their own ban the box policies. Specifically, the law “provides that a political subdivision may not prohibit an employer, at the time an individual makes an initial application for employment, from making an inquiry regarding the individual’s criminal history information.” Governor Holcomb’s executive order prohibits the state government from asking about an applicant’s criminal history on job applications and Senate Bill 312 assures that other employers throughout the state will still retain the right to do so, reports explain.

Supporters of the Fair Chance Employment movement within Indiana—including the Indiana Institute for Working Families—have been complimentary of the executive order but critical of Senate Bill 312. The executive order will break down employment barrier for ex-offenders seeking jobs in the public sector, supporters note, but Senate Bill 312 may bar further progress of ban the box legislation in Indiana. Per these sources, the law has greatly minimized the chances of future laws that would prohibit private employers from asking about criminal history on their job applications.

Reports identify that Holcomb’s executive order only goes as far as the job application. The state government will still run background checks on top candidates and disqualify applicants for red flag offenses relevant to the job.

Sources: http://eaglecountryonline.com/local-article/gov-holcombs-executive-order-bans-box-public-jobs/

http://www.nelp.org/content/uploads/Ban-the-Box-Fair-Chance-State-and-Local-Guide.pdf

https://iga.in.gov/legislative/2017/bills/senate/312#digest-heading

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