Washington Metro Area

Washington, D.C. is not only the nation's capital but also the hub for a sprawling metropolitan area, typically called the Washington metro. This region includes the District of Columbia and counties in three states: Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. As the nation’s sixth-largest metro, the area has a total population of approximately 6.1 million people and continues to grow at a rapid pace due to the area's educational and employment opportunities. 

Counties in the metro include Calvert, Frederick, and Prince George's County in Maryland; Jefferson County in West Virginia; and Arlington, Fairfax, Culpeper, and many other counties in Virginia. In total, the Washington metro is comprised of nearly two dozen counties.

Due to the high cost of living in D.C., many individuals around the region commute to work. This leads to many people who cross state lines for work or travel from adjacent counties to seek work. With that in mind, a narrow screening process for employees doesn't make sense in such a large region; a candidate with a clean record in Maryland may not be able to say the same about their records in Virginia or D.C. Casting a wider net for criminal records may be the right move for your business. If you plan to conduct thorough background checks on applicants for positions within your business, it is critical to understand restrictions on accessing records in the Washington metro.

Metro area rules
Washington, D.C. allows employers to ask about and use criminal arrest and conviction records for applicants going back ten years. If the individual was imprisoned during the prior decade, older records can be requested. As of 2014, D.C. has implemented a district-wide “ban the box” ordinance. Public employers and private businesses with more than 11 staff members may not ask about criminal history on an applicant. Instead, a conditional job offer must be made before an employer can conduct a background check.

Several counties in the Virginia portion of the metro, including Montgomery County, follow ban the box rules that apply only to county-level employers. West Virginia places no such restrictions on inquiries, and both states allow for non-sealed record considerations. Maryland heavily restricts access to state-level criminal histories without a court order or legal mandate but does not have private ban the box rules.

For employers in the Washington metro area, it is very important to keep in mind how frequently individuals may move and change jobs. By requesting an applicant’s recent address history, you can gain valuable insight into what level of investigation you may need to perform to complete your due diligence. 

As you seek to gain a clear view on applicants to open job roles, take care in implementing background check procedures that are fair, equitable, and compliant with local laws. backgroundchecks.com can provide information gathered from counties in Maryland and the District of Columbia. Start by reviewing our product page to find the background checking services most relevant to your metro vetting needs. If you need additional support for metro area due diligence, contact our background check team. 

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