Washington, D.C., Ban the Box Law

Published Aug. 4, 2014

Washington DC Ban the Box Law

In a unanimous decision, the Council of the District of Columbia voted to “ban the box.”

The Fair Criminal Records Screening Act (Bill 20-642), prohibits employers from asking a job applicant about any criminal convictions until a conditional job offer has been extended. Employers are also prohibited from asking about an applicant’s arrest record.

Update: The Washington, D.C., ban the box law went into effect in December 2014.

If an employer decides to withdraw an offer of employment after hearing of the applicant’s criminal record, it must be supported by a “legitimate business reason.” Some factors that an employer can use to determine if they have a legitimate business reason are:

  • How the criminal offense(s) for which the applicant was convicted affect the applicant’s ability to perform the duties to which they were hired
  • How much time has passed since the criminal offense(s)
  • The frequency and seriousness of the criminal offense(s)

Ban the Box: Updates and State Laws

Ban the Box Advocacy and Opposition

Those in favor of banning the box say such legislation helps give ex-offenders a fair shot at employment. Most ex-offenders return to a life of crime due to the frustration of not being able to find work.

It is estimated that 60,000 residents living in the District of Columbia, 10 percent of the population, have a criminal record. Advocates are quick to point out that the proposed law would not apply to sensitive jobs such as providing services to children or vulnerable adults.

Opponents argue that this bill will keep employers from adequately screening applicants. Because employers cannot find out about an applicant’s criminal history until after an offer is made, if a conviction is a deal breaker (for example, if the applicant would need to enter customers’ homes), employers will have to start the hiring process over again and previous applicants may no longer be available or interested. Companies with more than one location also need to consider that there could be different regulations depending on the legislation in that location.

Where Ban the Box Goes from Here

The bill will now head to the District of Columbia’s Mayor Vincent Gray for his signature and then to Congress for approval. If this bill becomes law, the District of Columbia will join 12 other states to pass ban the box legislation.

This Employment Law News blog is intended for market awareness only, it is not to be used for legal advice or counsel.

GovDocs Minimum Wage

Keep Informed
with GovDocs Employment Law News

Employment Law Compliance LinkedIn Group

What is GovDocs?

GovDocs simplifies employment law compliance for large, multi-jurisdiction employers in the U.S. and Canada. The GovDocs software platform integrates three solutions in one convenient place to help you master the employment laws impacting your business. Whether you manage a postings, minimum wage or paid leave program, our products cut through research time, provide proactive insights into the everchanging landscape of employment laws and reduce the risk of noncompliance. The company is headquartered in Eagan, Minn.

Have fewer than 30 locations? 

The GovDocs Poster Store simplifies posting compliance for employers with less than 30 locations across all industries, offering a variety of posting products to meet your labor law compliance needs.