Connecticut has become the latest state to implement statewide legislation banning employers from asking job applicants about previous criminal activity “at the onset of the employment process”. The new law which is titled “An Act Concerning Fair Chance Employment” Public Act No. 1t6-83 states that employers may still conduct criminal background checks, however this may only be done later in the employment process (i.e. initial interview or conditional job offer).
This law falls right in line with “Ban the Box” which is a sweeping movement of states and counties passing laws prohibiting employers from asking about previous criminal activity on an employment application. Under the law, employers may inquire into an applicant’s criminal background when required under state or federal law, or when the job requires a security or fidelity bond or equivalent bond.
Employers should taking the following steps in response to this new law:
-Review employment application and ensure there is no question asking about previous criminal convictions (this must be done before January 1, 2017)
-Ensure key decision makers are fully aware of the new provisions
-Check your local ordinance, for instance Hartford and New Haven prohibit private employers who are vendors to the cities from conducting criminal background checks prior to making a conditional job offer of employment.
-If you are a multi-state employer than it would be beneficial to look at other states “ban the box” laws and incorporate a uniformed and compliant hiring process.
-Employers must still conduct background checks in a non-discriminatory fashion as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) likely will overreach and scrutinize background check procedures for “disparate impact” based on protected classes.