Hiring Criminals: Banning the Box

Does your corporation Ban-the-Box? The Ban-the-Box law bans the box on job applications that asks if the job applicant has been convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony. The removal of the box gives job applicants a chance to be considered for employment based on their resume, qualifications, and employment history before their criminal record is addressed.

Ban-the-Box is a law that removes the box on job applications that asks the job applicant if they have a criminal record. Without the Ban-the-Box law, when the applicant checks the box then their chances of being immediately disqualified is very high. The Ban-the-Box law prevents discrimination and gives the job applicant the opportunity to prove they are a viable candidate. Let’s take a closer look at the Ban-the-Box law.

The Ban-the-Box Law

The purpose of the Ban-the-Box law is to prevent discrimination and give the job applicant with a criminal record a much better chance of getting hired. According to the National Employment Law Project (NELP), 150 U.S. cities and counties including 31 states now enforce the Ban-the-Box law. Job applicants with criminal records are deemed qualified first before subjecting to a criminal background check. Employers are now performing the criminal history check later in the hiring process.

Ban-the-Box Law Restrictions

Employers must also abide by additional requirements and restrictions that are included in the Ban-the-Box law such as:

  • Employers cannot ask about dismissed history, arrests, or sealed records
  • Employers must wait until after the first interview or after a conditional offer is made to discuss criminal history
  • Employers must consider whether the criminal offense(s) are related to the job they are applying for
  • Employers must take into consideration how long ago the crime occurred
  • If the conviction affects job performance, the conditional offer may be withdrawn
  • Employers must evaluate each criminal record on a case-by-case basis

Why Ban-the-Box?

According to a New York Times Family Foundation poll, “Men with criminal records account for about 34 percent of all nonworking men ages 25 to 54.”

These ex-offenders face reluctance from employers to hire them because of their criminal history. Not only does criminal history interfere with getting hired, there are certain jobs that are lawfully off-limits.

According to the National Employment Law Project, “nearly 65 million Americans have some variety of criminal record”. These are adults of working age that are not contributing to the economy or workforce due to stigma, discrimination, and/or laws.


Four states (Indiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Michigan) have unbanned the Ban-the-Box law. Employers don’t want to hire criminals even if some of the applicants have been convicted of minor crimes. The average criminal has committed violence and/or has antisocial behavior.

Is this behavior an indication of future actions? Are they repeat offenders?
According to Brookings Institution,” about two-thirds of released prisoners are rearrested within three years.”

Employers want to hire employees that are qualified and have a clean criminal record. The presence of a criminal history is an indication that the job applicant will no longer be considered for employment. The Ban-the-Box law gives the applicant a chance to be hired based on qualifications and experience before their criminal record is addressed.