Ban the Box Update: States and Cities Continue Making Changes

Despite earning its first successes many years ago, the ban the box movement shows no sign of slowing down. With an increasing number of states and major cities implementing delays on criminal background checks, the ideas remain in dialogue, and consideration continues for these regulations nationwide.

For employers, staying up to date on these changes is important. Wherever you operate, and there is a local rule to ban the box, a background check is not as straightforward as it once was. A policy that you keep updated in line with changing regulations. Let's briefly tour the headlines to see what's new in the Second Chance arena in 2023.

Baton Rouge Consider a Private Expansion of Ban the Box

In the capital of Louisiana, the local government has already banned the box for employment with the city for years. Still, the local councilwoman who pioneered that rule wants to take it further. Under the proposal, companies that worked to provide contracted services to the city would no longer be permitted to ask about criminal records until after an initial job interview. 

After initially moving quickly, the bill was delayed providing increased time to create language around how long companies would have to comply. Although opponents say that the requirement would put an undue financial burden on employers, the bill seems set to pass this year.

Washington State Removes Cannabis Considerations from Hiring

Following in several other states' footsteps, Washington has forbidden employers from considering marijuana use during the job application phase. Companies could still drug test and even fire employees for use after hiring, but legal off-duty cannabis use will not be a barrier for applicants. Exceptions will exist for positions related to public safety and transportation.

Chicago Rolls Out New Restrictions

Chicago was among the first major cities to enact a ban the box law. In April 2023, the city revisited its original law and amended it substantially. This incorporates additional steps common in other ordinances across the nation.

Regardless of size, Chicago will now require all employers to ban the box. When evaluating records, every individual must receive personal consideration. Chicago has also gone beyond the federal FCRA's adverse action requirements. In issue adverse action, employers will now have to be specific about their reasoning. This law expands the state's ban the box law, which only applied to those with 15 or more employees.

Another New York County Considers Ban the Box Pros and Cons

In Monroe County, home to the city of Rochester in New York, the local council is moving forward with efforts to ban the box at the county level. The county would cease asking about criminal convictions on applications but does not establish interview requirements. The City of Rochester has already banned the box, expanding the rules to the county itself.

Congress Aims to Seal Marijuana Records

The federal Clean Slate Act has been reintroduced, although whether it will make it out of committee during this congress remains to be seen. Under the proposal, minor and non-violent marijuana-related offenses would be eligible for sealing. The process would be automatic after passage and could hide thousands of federal criminal records from view.

Stay Up to Date on Shifting Clean Slate Legislation

So far, most of these changes are tentative and remain pending before their respective lawmaking bodies. Others, however, are already in force or set to come into effect soon. Employers should take note of the continued appetite for creating new ban the box regulations. As more areas successfully transition to this approach, the likelihood that it will continue as a nationwide trend is high.

Get monthly updates on Compliance and Legislation

Michael Klazema

About Michael Klazema The author

Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments

Michael's recent publications

More Like This Post

State Criminal Search

Virginia Criminal Search

Order a criminal record search for Virginia and get your report in 1-3 days for 10$.

Order a Search for Virginia