Indianapolis and Marion County Ban the Box

By Michael Klazema on 3/31/2014

Indianapolis (and Marion County) is following the lead of many other jurisdictions that have recently adopted ban-the-box laws. These laws refer to the elimination of the box on a job application that inquires about an applicant’s criminal history. 

This update examines vendor requirements under the new ordinance.

The ordinance defines “vendor” as any person or entity that employs the equivalent of ten or more full-time employees in its total workforce, apparently ten employees anywhere, and that holds or enters into a contract with the city or countyJob application forms used by vendors must not contain a box or any other inquiry about an applicant’s prior criminal history. It will be considered unlawful for a vendor to require an individual to disclose or reveal any arrest or criminal accusation or to take any adverse action on the basis of the charge, if the charge is not pending or did not result in a conviction. Additionally, vendors are prohibited from making any inquiry about, or to require a person to disclose or reveal, any criminal convictions during the application process. The application process ends when the employer accepts the employment application.

Indianapolis and Marion County have adopted the Equal Employment Opportunity Guidelines for considering applicants with criminal histories.Therefore, vendors are prohibited from using criminal records as a measure to exclude applicants for employment without first considering the following:

  1. Whether the applicant committed the offense (in the case of an arrest);
  2. The nature and gravity of the offense;
  3. The time since the offense; and
  1. The nature of the job for which the applicant has applied.

The city and county will only conduct business with vendors that are compliant with the new ordinance. They will review vendors’ policies, practices and standards to ensure compliance before doing business with them. 

As an exception, vendors may ask about convictions or violations that otherwise serve as a bar to employment under state or federal law, and may make inquiries and take adverse action where specifically authorized by applicable law. Vendors hiring for licensed trades or professions, including positions such as interns and apprentices for licensed positions may ask the same questions asked by the trade or professional licensing body, in accordance with state law.
The city and county may deny awards of contracts to violators of the ordinance. Additionally, fines of no more than $2,500 for a first violation and $7,500 for a second or subsequent violation may be assessed for violations. The city or the county may also take “appropriate action” to enjoin or abate any violation of the ordinance.

This comprehensive ban-the-box ordinance goes into effect on May 20, 2014.

In summary, vendors wanting to contract with Indianapolis or Marion County are required to do the following:

  1. Remove any item on the job application form that solicits information about an applicant’s criminal history;
  2. Make no inquiries into, and do not require applicants to disclose or reveal, arrests or criminal charges not currently pending or that did not result in a conviction;
  3. Make no inquiries into criminal convictions until after the application process is completed;
  4. Take no adverse employment action on the basis of an arrest or charge that is not currently pending or did not result in a conviction;
  5. Establish policies, practices, and standards for hiring applicants with prior criminal convictions that comply with federal, state, and local laws regulations, including by incorporating the EEOC guidelines.

Indianapolis’ new ordinance is available here:

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