Employment law rights are about to take a new turn in Connecticut and HR managers need to get ready for it. On January 1, 2017, Connecticut will put into effect its version of a Ban the Box law. This law will make it unlawful for employers to ask questions about an applicant’s criminal history upon initial contact. That means that employers can’t ask about a candidate’s prior arrests, criminal charges or convictions on the initial interview application.
Exceptions to the Ban the Box Laws
There are exceptions. For example, that “box” may be allowed if the employer is required to get that information due to a state or federal law or a requirement for a security or fidelity bond, or an equivalent bond.
When It’s Okay to Ask About Criminal History
When can employers ask about a prospective employee’s criminal history? After they have made a conditional offer of employment to an applicant; during a subsequent interview or in supplemental application materials after an initial screening.
Connecticut’s Ban the Box Laws May Change
Nationwide, more than 100 cities and counties have adopted Ban the Box laws. And neighboring states, like New York, have laws that are much more heavy-handed.
There is a chance that Connecticut’s approach to this issue may not be settled. Employers should take note of the first report that will be issued on Jan. 1, 2017 by the state’s “Fair Chance Employment Task Force.” It’s been charged with studying issues around employment opportunities for individuals with criminal histories. There is expected to be a second report on or before Jan. 1, 2018.
What Employers Should Do Now About Ban the Box Laws
Employers should take a good look at their job-application forms, interview procedures and hiring processes to make sure they comply with Connecticut law. As of Jan. 1, 2017, that law will require employers to remove any inquiries about criminal convictions from an initial employment application.
In addition, employers and HR professionals should stay current on the recommendations of the task force that may mimic more stringent Ban the Box laws like New York’s. In that state, employers must comply with additional measures designed to discourage alleged discrimination in the job market against job applicants with criminal histories.