Blog

 
     

Rhode Island Enacts Ban-the-Box Legislation

By Michael Klazema on 8/5/2013

Current law in Rhode Island restricts employers from inquiring about arrests. Senate Bill 357 amends Chapter 28-5 of the Rhode Island General Laws entitled “Fair Employment Practices.” With its passage, the bill makes it an “unlawful employment practice” for an employer to inquire about any convictions before the first interview. However, employers may ask an applicant for information about his or her criminal convictions at the first interview or thereafter.

There are two specific exceptions provided in the law allowing employers to inquire about convictions before the first interview. An exception is provided if a federal or state law or regulation creates a disqualification from employment based on a person’s conviction of one or more specified criminal offenses. Another exemption is made if an individual must be bonded for a position and a conviction of one or more specified criminal offenses would disqualify the applicant from obtaining the bond.

Rhode Island joins California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Minnesota, in passing ban-the-box legislation. There are also many cities across the United States that have passed various forms of ban-the-box ordinances. It is a trend we expect to continue.

You may access Senate Bill 357 here: http://legiscan.com/RI/text/S0357/id/866828/Rhode_Island-2013-S0357-Comm_Sub.pdf

 City of Buffalo Enacts “Ban the Box” Ordinance

The City of Buffalo recently enacted a new ordinance that essentially bans the box.  Banning the box refers to the elimination of an inquiry on a job application into a person’s criminal history.  The new ordinance prevents the City of Buffalo, its vendors, and any employer in Buffalo with at least 15 employees from asking questions about an applicant’s prior criminal convictions during the application process. (The ordinance does not specify whether an employer must have 15 employees in Buffalo to be subject to the ordinance.)

The new ordinance prohibits an employer from inquiring into or requiring an applicant to disclose or reveal a criminal conviction during the application process and prior to the first interview. The application process begins when an applicant inquires about employment and ends when the employer has accepted an employment application. If an employer does not conduct interviews, the ordinance requires the employer to inform the applicant whether he or she must undergo a criminal background check before employment commences.

Employers hiring for licensed trades or professions, including interns and apprentices, may ask applicants the same questions asked by the licensing body in accordance with New York state law. Also, when hiring for some positions, an employer may inquire about certain convictions or violations that would be considered barrier crimes under state or federal law.

The ordinance specifically requires employers to comply with Article 23-A of the New York State Correction Law when considering an applicant’s prior criminal conviction in determining suitability for employment. Article 23-A protects an applicant from discrimination based on a past criminal conviction unless the employer considers eight factors to determine that the conviction disqualifies the applicant.

Exemptions to Buffalo’s new ordinance are authorizations provided by other applicable law, and hiring for the police and fire departments. Also exempted from the ordinance are public and private schools, and any public or private service provider of direct services specific to the care or supervision of children, young adults, senior citizens, or the disabled.

The ordinance has an effective date of January 1, 2014. The amended bill is not yet available, although the text of the bill passed by the legislature is viewable here: http://ecode360.com/documents/BU1237/source/489610.pdf

Article 23-A of the New York State Corrections Law is available here: https://www.labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/wp/correction-law-article-23a.pdf


Tag Cloud
Categories
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • December 04 Chicago Public Schools has dismissed hundreds of employees, coaches, vendors, and volunteers based on background check findings. The district recently vowed to re-check the majority of its 68,000 employees after a Chicago Tribune investigation revealed holes in its background check policies.
  • November 29 Striving to create a safer environment more conducive to productive training and leadership development, the Army has recently moved to adopt a uniform policy of background checks for certain roles. 
  • November 27 California’s biggest public school district is waiving the cost of volunteer background checks. The move is meant to encourage more family - and community members to get involved with the school district.
  • November 22 Contractors play an important role in the workforce, delivering services to both individuals and organizations. Vetting contractors for suitability continues to be a challenge, as two recent articles prove.
  • November 21 When it comes to background and pre-employment checks, it can be instructive to look at the characteristics of the ten most massive U.S. employers.
  • November 20 The #MeToo movement is bringing about legislative changes employers need to know about. We review some of the laws recently passed in California.
  • November 19

    Will a criminal conviction show up on your background check forever? In most states, there is a year limit for how long background check companies can report older criminal information.


  • November 15

    Replacing an inconsistent array of procedures, Ontario's government has passed into law a reform act intended to clarify how police departments should handle requests for information to be used in background checks. 


  • November 14 The federal government has vowed to cut its backlog of security clearance background checks in half by spring. Currently, the backlog is approximately 600,000 names strong.
  • November 12 To ensure the best hires, DFWSPF has implemented a stringent employee screening process—one that includes background searches through backgroundchecks.com.