Ban the Box

What is Ban the Box?


If you are an ex-offender ("returning citizen") seeking employment there is a good chance you have heard or seen the term "Ban the Box", but what is Ban the Box and how does it impact your job search?

The Ban the Box initiative was started in 2004 by a group of formally incarcerated individuals and their families called All of Us or None. However, the first Ban the Box law took effect in Hawaii in 1998. Regardless of who was first, or who started it, since that time the momentum has grown exponentially and continues to garner acceptance nationwide. Ultimately, the goal of Ban the Box is to force employers to focus on and choose the best candidates based on their qualifications and skills instead of their past convictions. To do this Ban the Box requires that employers remove any question or reference to previous criminal convictions from job applications. Additionally, background checks can not be conducted until later in the hiring process.

Currently there are 16 states and over 100 cities with Ban the Box laws . Of those 16 states, 6 have gone as far as to include private employers. And of the 100 cities, 25 have included private employers.

In 2012 the Ban the Box initiative received a big boost from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) when they endorsed removing conviction questions from applications as making employment decisions based on arrests or convictions are regulated by federal civil rights laws. President Obama's My Brother's Keeper Task Force has also endorsed hiring practices that “which give applicants a fair chance and allows employers the opportunity to judge individual job candidates on their merits.”

 

What states and cities have Ban the Box laws?

States with Ban the Box laws:
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin
Cities & Counties with Ban the Box laws:
  • Alabama
    • Birmingham, AL
  • Arizona
    • Glendale, AZ
    • Pima County, AZ
    • Tucson, AZ
  • California
    • Alameda County, CA
    • Berkeley, CA
    • Carson, CA
    • Compton, CA
    • East Palo Alto, CA
    • Oakland, CA
    • Pasadena, CA
    • Richmond, CA
    • San Francisco, CA
    • Santa Clara County, CA
  • Connecticut
    • Bridgeport, CT
    • Hartford, CT
    • New Haven, CT
    • Norwich, CT
  • Delaware
    • New Castle County, DE
    • Wilmington, DE
  • Florida
    • Clearwater, FL
    • Daytona Beach, FL
    • Fort Myers, FL
    • Gainesville, FL
    • Jacksonville, FL
    • Miami-Dade County, FL
    • Orlando, FL
    • Pompano Beach, FL
    • St. Petersburg, FL
    • Tampa, FL
    • Tallahassee, FL
  • Georgia
    • Albany, GA
    • Atlanta, GA
    • Cherokee County, GA
    • Columbus, GA
    • Fulton County, GA
    • Macon-Bibb County, GA
  • Illinois
    • Chicago, IL
  • Indiana
    • Indianapolis, IN
  • Kansas
    • Kansas City, KS
    • Topeka, KS
  • Kentucky
    • Louisville
  • Louisiana
    • Baton Rouge, LA
    • New Orleans, LA
  • Maryland
    • Baltimore, MD
    • Montgomery County, MD
    • Prince George's County, MD
  • Massachusetts
    • Boston, MA
    • Cambridge, MA
    • Worcester, MA
  • Michigan
    • Ann Arbor, MI
    • Detroit, MI
    • East Lansing, MI
    • Genesee County, MI
    • Kalamazoo, MI
    • Muskegon County, MI
  • Minnesota
    • Minneapolis, MN
    • St. Paul, MN
  • Missouri
    • Columbia, MO
    • Kansas City, MO
    • St. Louis, MO
  • New Jersey
    • Atlantic City, NJ
    • Newark, NJ
  • New York
    • Buffalo, NY
    • Dutchess County, NY
    • Ithaca, NY
    • Kingston, NY
    • Newburgh, NY
    • New York, NY
    • Rochester, NY
    • Syracuse, NY
    • Ulster County, NY
    • Woodstock, NY
    • Yonkers, NY
  • North Carolina
    • Asheville, NC
    • Carrboro, NC
    • Charlotte, NC
    • Cumberland County, NC
    • Durham City, NC
    • Durham County, NC
    • Spring Lake, NC
  • Ohio
    • Alliance, OH
    • Akron, OH
    • Canton, OH
    • Cincinnati, OH
    • Cleveland, OH
    • Cuyahoga County, OH
    • Dayton, OH
    • Franklin County, OH
    • Hamilton County, OH
    • Lucas County, OH
    • Massillon, OH
    • Newark, OH
    • Stark County, OH
    • Summit County, OH
    • Warren, OH
    • Youngstown, OH
  • Oregon
    • Multnomah County, OR
    • Portland, OR
  • Pennsylvania
    • Allegheny County, PA
    • Allentown, PA
    • Lancaster, PA
    • Philadelphia, PA
    • Pittsburgh, PA
    • Reading, PA
  • Rhode Island
    • Providence, RI
  • Tennessee
    • Chattanooga, TN
    • Hamilton County, TN
    • Memphis, TN
    • Nashville, TN
  • Texas
    • Austin, TX
    • Dallas County, TX
    • Travis County, TX
  • Virginia
    • Alexandria, VA
    • Arlington County, VA
    • Blacksburg, VA
    • Charlottesville, VA
    • Danville, VA
    • Fairfax County, VA
    • Fredericksburg, VA
    • Montgomery County, VA
    • Newport News, VA
    • Norfolk, VA
    • Petersburg, VA
    • Portsmouth, VA
    • Richmond, VA
    • Roanoke, VA
    • Virginia Beach, VA
  • Washington
    • Pierce County, WA
    • Seattle, WA
    • Spokane, WA
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Wisconsin
    • Dane County, WI
    • Milwaukee County, WI
* States, cities, and counties in red have Ban the Box initiatives that apply to both public, government vendors and private employers.

* States, cities, and counties in blue have Ban the Box initiatives that apply to both public and government vendor employers.

Does Ban the Box apply to housing as well?

While the Ban the Box initiative supports enacting laws to protect against housing discrimination, only Newark, New Jersey has officially included housing as part of their Ban the Box law.

Does Ban the Box mean an employer has to hire me?

Simply put no, Ban the Box does not mean the employer is automatically required to hire you. In most cases Ban the Box laws only delay when, or define specifically, how background questions and/or checks can be conducted for employment purposes.

Does Ban the Box mean that anyone with an arrest or criminal conviction will automatically be hired?

This is one of the biggest misconceptions surrounding the Ban the Box initiative and one that uninformed opponents try to seize on when politicians start talking about enacting Ban the Box laws. Ban the box laws do not prohibit employers from running background checks or asking if candidates have arrests or convictions. However, the employer can only ask or conduct background checks AFTER they have reviewed the application and in most cases after the first interview. So employers are still allowed to screen employees, but since that screening occurs at a much later time in the hiring process the hope is that the employer will hire based on the qualifications and not the background. However, the decision is ultimately the employers' and as we stated previously federal civil rights laws regarding using previous arrest or criminal convictions in the hiring process could come into play depending on the specific position be hired for and the individual's arrest and/or conviction record.

Where can I get more information on Ban the Box?

There are many resources on the web about what Ban the Box is and how it affects you. Two of the best are:

Voting Rights by State