Louisiana has multiple background check restrictions that employers should know about before conducting a criminal history screening.
The first restriction is the state’s ban the box policy, on the books since June 2016. That law bars state government offices from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history until after a job interview. If the position doesn’t require an interview, then the hiring manager must delay criminal history inquiries until after making a conditional offer of employment. In addition to requiring that state offices remove questions about criminal history from their job applications, the law may require employers to delay criminal background searches until later in the hiring process.
Note that this ban the box policy only applies to state employers and not to local government offices or private employers. There are two municipalities in Louisiana that have adopted their own ban the box policies: Baton Rouge bans the box for local government jobs, and New Orleans bans the box for city jobs and city vendors and contractors.
In 2021, Louisiana adopted a law about the use of criminal history in employment that prohibits employment-related discrimination based on a person’s criminal background. The law bars most employers in the state from considering arrest records when making hiring decisions.
Many states have similar restrictions in place, recognizing that arrests do not denote guilt in the way that convictions do. However, until now, Louisiana has not limited employers in their ability to inquire about arrest records or consider those records during the hiring process, even if an arrest did not lead to a conviction. The new law reads that, “unless otherwise provided by law, when making a hiring decision, an employer shall not request or consider an arrest record or charge that did not result in a conviction, if such information is received in the course of a background check.”
The law also states that employers “considering other types of criminal records” such as convictions “must make an individual assessment of whether an applicant’s criminal history record has a direct and adverse relationship with the specific duties of the job that may justify denying the applicant the position.” Employers should look at each criminal conviction and decide whether it has relevance to the job at hand based on details such as the nature of the offense, the amount of time that has elapsed since the conviction, and signs of rehabilitation.