Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signed a new Fair Chance Employment law on June 1st, 2016. More commonly referred to as “Ban the Box,” this law limits pre-employment criminal screenings by private employers.

Taking effect on January 1, 2016, the law will prohibit Connecticut employers from including questions about a prospective employee’s arrests, criminal charges or convictions on an employment application.

Employers are still able to make criminal background inquiries, but the timing will now be shifted to later in the hiring process. Any employer found in violation will be subject to a penalty of $300 for each violation.

The Constitution State is the latest to join more than 20 others that have implemented this regulation with Louisiana being the other recent. Governor John Bel Edwards signed the legislation into law saying the bill promotes opportunity.

Some say this law is needed badly in the state. According to a study, Louisiana puts the most restrictions in the nation on employment for felons. Ban the Box will take effect in Louisiana August 1, 2016.

Action Items for Employers

GovDocs offers the following suggestions for what employers can do next:

  • Revise employment application materials – Remove all inquiries regarding arrests, criminal charges, or convictions
  • Ensure key employees involved in the hiring process are informed of the updates
  • Check your specific city ordinances for other provisions
  • Evaluate how the law may affect other aspects of your hiring process, including online applications

Small business owners and consultants nationwide appear to be slightly split on the regulations. While some believe it’s a step in the right direction, others prefer to know the full history of a potential employee before moving further in the hiring process.

Here’s what they had to say:

“Ban the Box regulations are an important step in easing discrimination against returning citizens. But the impact on small business will be negligible. These laws aren’t about forcing businesses to hire ex-cons. They just mean that on job applications, you can’t ask if someone has ever been convicted of a felony. You are still welcome to ask this in the hiring process beyond the initial screen. You can still run background checks. If there is any noticeable impact on small business, most likely it will be that the applicant pool is now larger,” said Rasheen Carbin, CMO and co-founder of nsphire.com.

“We fear what we don’t know. In reality, the vast majority of former prisoners are hardworking, often skilled workers who remain loyal to employers giving them a second chance. They become exceptional assets to the businesses that hire them,” said Carolyn Esparza, LPC.

"For job candidates who may have made mistakes in the past, but have grown and would like to move forward with their lives, this legislation offers a chance to share their credentials, rather than be permanently forced to the sideslines in the workforce. For employers, removing this question will help evaluate candidates based on their individual qualifications and career history, rather than automatically weeding out potentially excellent candidates," said Martha Schmitz, advisor for Mentat.

“Fair chance employment practices like banning the box provide better decision-making as employers can consider job-related skills first and foremost. Seeing a conviction first biases the entire hiring decision and makes you lose focus on the job qualifications you were originally searching for,” said Sia Mohajer, senior marketing consultant at Online Resume Builders.

“Banning the box will only cost businesses more money as they will have to start paying for and running a background check on every single person. Before, they could skip the background check if the person checked the box. This is especially important in a business like mine where we deal with medical information on a daily basis. Our clients aren’t allowed to have anyone with a felony work with them, so I can’t in turn hire anyone with a felony,” said Ben Walker, CEO of Transcription Outsourcing, LLC.

"I'm sorry, but I want to know if I'm hiring an ex-con. There are plenty of qualified candidates who haven't committed crimes. I should be able to know," said Dan Nainan, comedian.

No matter which side of the spectrum your opinions lie, as more and more states sign this regulation into law, your business will need to take steps to remain compliant. 

Learn more about the Ban the Box campaign here.