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Two Maryland counties have recently enacted “ban the box” laws that employers should be aware of.

Montgomery County, MD

On January 1, 2015, Montgomery County’s “ban the box” legislation went into effect. It applies to employers with 15 or more full time employees in the county, and specifically prohibits employers from:

  • On the employment application, inquiring about any (1) arrest or accusation of crime or (2) criminal conviction.
  • Before the conclusion of a first employment interview, (1) inquiring about any arrest or accusation of crime; (2) inquiring about any criminal conviction or (3) conducting any background check or inquiries regarding any arrest, accusation of crime, or criminal conviction.

Additionally, there are some notice obligations that are different from the FCRA, specifically:

  • If the employer intends to rescind a conditional offer of employment based on the criminal history report, the applicant must be provided with a copy of the background report, and a copy of A Summary of Your Rights under the FCRA. Additionally, the employer must also specify the “Items that are the basis for the intention” for the adverse action.
  • Employers also need to allow the applicant at least 7 days to dispute the accuracy of the information, or otherwise respond (instead of the recommended 5 business days under the FCRA).

The legislation does not apply when the employer provides programs, services or direct care to minors or vulnerable adults, or if the employer is required by law to check criminal history.

To read the ordinance in its entirety, visit the Montgomery County Office of Human Rights website.

 

Prince George’s County, MD

On January 20, 2015, Prince George’s County “banned the box” for private employers. Employers with 25 full time employees in that county can no longer ask applicants about their criminal records on the employment application. Specifically, employers are prohibited from:

  • On the employment application, inquiring about any (1) arrest or accusation of crime or (2) criminal conviction.
  • Before the conclusion of a first employment interview, (1) inquiring about any arrest or accusation of crime; (2) inquiring about any criminal conviction or (3) conducting any background check or inquiries regarding any arrest, accusation of crime, or criminal conviction.

Like the legislation in Montgomery County, there are some differences from the FCRA. Specifically:

  • If the employer intends to rescind a conditional offer of employment based on the criminal history report, the applicant must be provided with a copy of the background report, and a copy of A Summary of Your Rights under the FCRA. Additionally, the employer must also specify the “Items that are the basis for the intention” for the adverse action.
  • Employers also need to allow the applicant at least 7 days to dispute the accuracy of the information, or otherwise respond (instead of the recommended 5 business days under the FCRA).

What can employers do?

  • Check job application forms to ensure that criminal history questions are removed.
  • Review hiring practices and procedures to make sure that criminal history background checks are not started until after the first interview has been conducted.
  • Follow all FCRA requirements, as well as local and state laws and regulations prior to conducting background checks, as well as when you are considering or taking adverse action against applicants or employees.

Corporate Screening offers a flexible option designed to help keep employers in compliance with adverse action procedures. The Adverse Action Workflow Tool will help you streamline your adverse action process, with flexible options, like real-time editable letters, that will give you the tools to keep your organization in compliance with FCRA adverse action rules and various state and local laws. Please contact Corporate Screening at 800-229-8606 if you would like information about the Adverse Action Workflow Tool or have compliance questions.