Beginning on February 29, 2020, all Maryland employers with fifteen or more employees must comply with the new ban the box law unless they fall within an exemption.
But, what is “ban the box”?
“Ban the Box” is a term that refers to laws which control when in the hiring process you can ask an employee, directly or indirectly, regarding their criminal background. The intent is to prevent discrimination and give employers a larger pool of candidates. It does not prevent you from asking about this information, it just controls the timing of it.
What’s the new law?
In Maryland, if you have 15 or more employees, starting on March 1st, you may only ask about an employee’s criminal background during the first interview. Prior to that first interview, you may not ask about their criminal background or do any searching into it yourself, even if informal. This means you cannot look up on public records whether there are any court cases against them.
Some employers are exempt (such as if you work with children or the elderly) or if you are required by law to do a background check earlier in the employment process. Employers in Montgomery County, Prince George’s County and Baltimore City may also need to comply with local ban the box laws that are currently in effect and are generally stricter.
What should you do now?
If the state or county laws apply to your company, you should do the following to ensure compliance:
- Delete any questions on your employment application about criminal background immediately
- Train your staff to not ask about an applicant’s criminal history until the legally permissible time
- Implement internal policies to ensure compliance
- Update your handbook to reflect the new requirements
- Revise your offer letter to ensure it is contingent on a background check
If you have any questions, we are happy to discuss how to best implement your own policies, procedures and employee manual revisions. Please contact Ginny Cascio Bonifacino by phone at (240) 778-2315 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.