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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

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Indiana prohibits local ’ban-the-box’ ordinances

Indiana prohibits local ’ban-the-box’ ordinances

"Ban the box" has been the rallying cry for 28 states looking to restrict employers from asking applicants about criminal convictions until later in the hiring process. States representing nearly every region of the country have adopted the policy, which gained momentum following a 2015 endorsement from former President Barack Obama.

The country's ban-the-box states are: California (2010, 2013,) Colorado (2012), Connecticut (2010), Delaware (2014), Georgia (2015), Hawaii (1998), Illinois (2014, 2013), Kentucky (2017), Louisiana (2016), Maryland (2013), Massachusetts (2010), Minnesota (2009, 2013), Missouri (2016), Nebraska (2014), Nevada (2017), New Jersey (2014), New Mexico (2010), New York (2015), Ohio (2015), Oklahoma (2016), Oregon (2015), Pennsylvania (2017), Rhode Island (2013), Tennessee (2016), Utah (2017), Vermont (2015, 2016), Virginia (2015), and Wisconsin (2016).

Although over 150 states, county and city governments across the nation have enacted ban-the-box laws, not everyone wants to eliminate the conviction history checkbox found on a job application. Last month, Indiana became the first state to bar local ban-the-box ordinances. Senate Bill 312, signed by Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, prevents local governments from passing the law like Indianapolis did in February 2014.

Beginning July 1, the new legislation will help employers with statewide operations avoid the complex hiring procedures and mandates tied to ban-the-box regulations. States with the law currently in effect prohibit companies from inquiring about a potential hire's criminal background until a conditional job offer is made. Employers are also expected to consider the age of the offense and its overall relevance to the responsibilities of the job. If no interview is conducted, employers are not allowed to make inquiries or ask questions about a candidate's past convictions.

With the policy gaining traction nationwide, Indiana may be the "lone wolf" in forbidding ban-the-box. However, other areas of the country are attempting to at least pass bills like S.B. 312. Texas lawmaker Rep. Paul Workman recently introduced House Bill 577, which aims to protect private employers from locally-enacted ban-the-box laws.

"Business owners should be able to make informed hiring decisions based on facts," Texas Senator Joan Huffman said in December. "Overly burdensome regulations hinder the ability of employers to create new jobs and spur the economic growth of Texas."

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