Connecticut has become the latest state to implement a statewide “ban the box” legislation banning employers from asking job applicants about previous criminal activity “at the onset of the employment process.” The new law titled Public Act No. 16-83, “An Act Concerning Fair Chance Employment,” 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 the 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, fidelity bond, or equivalent bond.
In response to this new law, employers should take the following steps:
- Review employment application and ensure there is not a question asking about previous criminal convictions (must be done prior to 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, 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.