What does it mean to ban-the-box?
The “box” refers to the question on job applications that asks applicants whether or not they have ever been convicted of a crime. Ban-the-box laws require employers to remove this question – as well as any other queries about criminal history – from job applications. Ostensibly, ban-the-box laws seek to prevent employment discrimination against individuals with criminal records. The idea is that an employer gets a chance to form an initial impression of each applicant’s current character before the employer reacts to the to the fact that the applicant has a criminal history. With no questions about criminal history on the job application, and with background checks delayed until late in the hiring process, and ex-offender will theoretically have a better chance of being viewed as “the best person” for the job.
However, most ban-the-box legislation places other restrictions and other requirements on employers. For instance, some states prohibit employers from inquiring about arrests, dismissed history, sealed records, or history in a diversion program. Some ban-the-box laws restrict employers from inquiring about criminal history until after the first interview or until a conditional offer of employment is made. Some jurisdictions require employers to consider other factors, such as time-related restrictions or whether criminal history is job-related.