Federal laws govern some aspects of the fair usage of criminal history information, but states such as Vermont have taken additional steps to create a level playing field for applicants. With that in mind, it is important for employers to understand the following restrictions on using a Vermont state background check.
Ban the Box
As of July 1, 2017, Vermont has instituted a ban the box policy that applies to all employers of any size within the state, including all private sector businesses. Employers, except those otherwise exempted by state or federal law, may not include any questions on initial applications about an applicant’s criminal past. In later stages of the hiring process, the discovery of a criminal past through a background check cannot be an automatic disqualifier. Applicants must be allowed the chance to explain the circumstances and outline efforts towards rehabilitation.
Arrest Record Consideration
Arrest records are typically not made available to employers in Vermont for any purpose.
Conviction Record Usage
In accordance with federal employment law, Vermont businesses may consider convictions if they have not been sealed by a court order or expunged from the individual’s record. Any consideration of a conviction must remain in accordance with the state’s ban the box provisions.
Restrictions on Credit History Usage
Vermont places additional restrictions on how employers may request and use credit reports when making hiring decisions, such as for positions that involve substantial money-handling. Except for some exempted businesses, such as banking institutions, employers are strictly prohibited from ordering a credit report on applicants and from using any information contained in such a report as the basis for a hiring decision.
For exempt employers, credit history cannot be the sole reason for disqualification. Any investigation of this nature regarding an applicant must be clearly disclosed and the consent of the individual must be obtained.