In early March of this year, Representatives recently introduced the Workforce Justice Act of 2021. If passed, it would give states three years to implement consistent Ban the Box policies that prohibit employers from asking job applicants about their criminal history before an offer of employment is made. All private-sector employment applications would have the question that asks job seekers to disclose criminal history removed. According to the legislation, noncompliant states could lose criminal justice funding.
Rep. Maxine Waters of California said that Ban the Box legislation like this would be a critical and necessary step to ensure that the 70 million Americans with an arrest or conviction record are treated justly.
The co-author of the Act alongside Re. Waters, Rep. David Trone of Maryland, stated that not banning the box would overly impact people of color who don’t have an equal shot at employment because of prior arrest record history. He went on to say that “[b]anning the box isn’t just good for business, it’s just the right thing to do and brings us one step closer to a more just society.”
Currently, 36 states, Washington, D.C., and over 150 cities and counties have banned the box. Fourteen states and twenty localities have included private employment in these policies. This patchwork of various state laws will likely continue for years to come if this legislation is not passed. Additionally, the federal government’s ban-the-box policy for federal agencies and contractors goes into effect in December of this year.
Hire Image advises employers to remain vigilant when it comes to complying with these various state laws and conducting employment background checks. We will continue to follow the progress (or lack thereof) of this bill and post updates as we receive them.