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California Bans the Box for Government Employees

By Michael Klazema on 10/23/2013

The new law “bans the box” on state and local agency job applications. The “ban the box” initiative is the removal of the box on a job application that inquires about an applicant’s criminal history.

The legislation prohibits a state or local agency from asking an applicant for employment to disclose orally or in writing information concerning the conviction history of the applicant. The prohibition includes any inquiry about conviction history on an employment application. An inquiry may be made only after the agency has determined the applicant meets the minimum employment qualifications. The restrictions apply to state agencies, all cities and counties, including charter cities and charter counties, and special districts in California.

The ban goes into effect on July 1, 2014.

A copy of the Assembly Bill 218 is available here: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/13-14/bill/asm/ab_0201-0250/ab_218_bill_20130524_amended_asm_v97.pdf

Illinois Bans the Box for State Hiring

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn issued an Administrative Order on October 3, 2013, banning the box on employment applications for all state and local agencies. The ban-the-box initiative is the elimination of questions about an applicant’s criminal history on a job application. The Administrative Order also announces new guidelines and procedures relating to the process for evaluating, interviewing and selecting candidates for employment.

Effective immediately, questions about an applicant’s criminal history will be removed from all state employment applications. An Authorization for Release of Criminal History Information form will be used whenever a criminal background check is required for certain positions. Refusal to complete and sign the Authorization form is reason for the State to no longer consider a candidate for a position.

In keeping with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s guidelines, the authorization form must inform the applicant that it is the policy of the State not to base employment decisions on the criminal history of an applicant unless one or two factors apply: either federal or state law prohibits the hiring, or the applicant is convicted of an infraction that is reasonably related to the position sought. Denial of employment based on criminal history must be consistent with business necessity, and the State’s duty to serve and protect its citizens.

The State will create a separate self-disclosure form for state agencies to use only for applicants who are eligible and are being considered for employment. If a candidate voluntarily discloses information about prior criminal history in an interview, the State is required to tell the person that the information will be considered, as appropriate, and at a separate point in time.  A candidate may be excluded from consideration based on criminal history only if the offense is job-related and consistent with business necessity. In these cases, the state must consider (1) the nature and gravity of the offense; (2) the time that has elapsed since the conviction and/or completion of the sentence; and (3) the nature of the job being sought.

The State may conduct a criminal history background check only after a candidate is found to be eligible and is being considered for a specific position. Only current convictions may be considered when making hiring decisions. Arrests or convictions that have been pardoned, expunged, or sealed, may not be considered. However, the State may consider information indicating the applicant has engaged in acts that could impact their suitability for the position.

The Administrative Order may be viewed here: http://www.illinois.gov/Government/ExecOrders/Documents/2013/adminorder-2013-1.pdf


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