Beginning Jan. 22, Los Angeles enacted the Fair Chance Ordinance, a so-called “ban-the-box” law that prevents employers from investigating the criminal histories of potential employees before submitting a conditional offer of employment. The goal of the law is to evaluate potential employees without acknowledging criminal history, but it also complicates the employment process.
Michelle Sumner, associate and counsel at equal employment advisory council at Washington, D.C.-based law firm NT Lakis, said there are currently 17 states in the U.S. that have ban-the-box ordinances, and that they run the gamut in requirements. Similarly, Andrea M. Kirshenbaum, principal at Post & Schell, P.C., attorneys at law, said during her practice in Philadelphia there were two different layers to its ban-the-box law—state and local—and in some cases requirements crossed over into the realm of the Fair Credit Act.
“There is not a lot of activity happening in Congress with regards to ban the box; it’s happening on the state level,” Kirshenbaum said. “With new jurisdiction coming in, we expect to see more activity in the state and local level, which makes it very challenging to hire as a multistate employer.” Don Schroeder, partner at international law firm Foley & Lardner, is unsure if he has ever seen a ban-the-box ordinance succeed, and argues that there are certain felonies that are prohibitive of someone’s trustworthiness and credibility.