From enforcing “Ban the Box” regulations on Los Angeles employers to potentially prohibiting Texan counties and cities from enacting “Ban the Box” legislation, passed and proposed legislation has, for the most part, favored the movement. While the federal Fair Chance Act has been halted since it was proposed in 2015, many states, cities, and counties have enacted their own “Ban the Box” legislation this year.

What is “Ban the Box”?

“Ban the Box” legislation aims to remove the ‘box’ on employment applications (and, in some cases, rental applications) that ask if an applicant has ever been convicted of a crime. In using this check box for employment purposes, pro-ban the box activists and politicians argue that the use of criminal records and credit history, before an applicant has been interviewed, discriminates against applicants who have served their time. Needless to say, legislation centered around the “ban the box” movement can not only affect your employment policy, but your employment screening as well.

As we stated in a previous article, Seattle, WA, New York, NY, and the state of Jew Jersey have already passed “Ban the Box” legislation. A list of currently passed and proposed “Ban the Box” legislation is below.


Fair Initiative for Hiring (see ordinance)

Effective July 1, 2017, Los Angeles employers are prohibited from asking job candidates about their criminal history until a conditional offer of employment has been made. If an employer decides to withdraw or cancel their conditional offer after reviewing an individual’s criminal history, they must conduct a “written assessment that effectively links the specific aspects” of the applicant’s criminal history “with risks inherent in the duties” of the position sought. For example, an applicant with a recent DUI applying for a job that requires the applicant to frequently drive. Before taking adverse action, the employer must provide a “fair chance process” (in addition to the written assessment) that gives the applicant 5 business days to provide information regarding the accuracy of the criminal history information. includes pre-adverse action notification to the job applicant on behalf of its clients.

If adverse action is taken after the above process, the employer must notify the applicant of the decision and provide the applicant a copy of the written reassessment. The fair chance initiative (more commonly known as a part of “ban the box” laws) applies to any private employers that employ at least 10 individuals who perform at least two hours of work on average each week within the city. All records and documents related to applicants must be kept for 3 years.


Fair Chance Ordinance (No. 17-14)

This bill prohibits employers with at least 20 employees from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history on an employment application. It also prohibits employers from asking about criminal history during an initial interview. Notice must be provided to the applicant before making any inquiry into an applicant’s criminal history, and a poster developed by the City’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE) must be visible within the workplace. If an applicant has criminal records, the employer must judge those records on 2 criteria: job-relatedness and time elapsed since conviction. If an applicant is denied based on criminal history, the employer must notify the applicant twice, once before the final decision and again once the decision is finalized. Applicants have 7 days to produce a notice of error. Employer must maintain all records for at least 3 years.


Current Employment Restrictions and Potential “Ban-the-Box” Movement (municipal code 39.03)

Dane County’s current restrictions (as per municipal code 39.03) allow employers use criminal records when deciding to accept or deny an applicant, if the record is within 3 years and is substantially job-related, or if it will affect the employee’s ability to obtain a license or permit for the job. Employers may also consider a criminal record if it affects the bendability of the employee required by state, local, or federal law. While the current regulations do not currently “Ban-the-Box”, County Executive Joe Parisi has made initiatives to create legislation requiring Dane County employers to adopt similar regulations.


The Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act (820 ILCS 75/)

While I will not go into full detail about Illinois’ “Ban-the-Box” laws as they also prohibit employers and employment agencies from inquiring and considering criminal records for employment purposes, please be aware that this act went into effect January 1, 2015. If violated, the Illinois Department of Labor’s Director shall provide a written warning (with 30 days to remedy the violation) for the first offence. A second violation can occur a civil penalty of up to $500, with a third violation occurring up to $1,500.


PENDING: City of Texas Proposes to Remove Municipal and County Ban the Box Laws (see House Bill)

While Austin, TX, Dallas and Travis Counties have already passed “Ban the Box” legislation, the State of Texas is looking to prohibit cities or counties from adopting or enforcing “Ban the Box” regulations. While House Bill 577 has only been introduced, if passed next year, it will take effect around September 1, 2017.


PENDING: Fair Criminal Record Screening for Housing Act of 2016 (B21-0706)

Although this bill has not yet been passed and is currently under council review, it could prohibit landlords from asking about an applicant’s prior criminal convictions until after they’ve extended a conditional offer of tenancy. After a conditional offer has been extended, property owners can only consider denying applicants based on specified types of convictions, and only if they’ve occurred in the past 7 years. Considerable crimes include: murder, assault, arson, sex abuse, robbery and fraud. If the rental offer is withdrawn, based on nondiscriminatory factors, the applicant can then request the reason in writing without charge. Property owners who fail to comply will be fined $1,000-5,000, depending on the amount of rental units owned. If passed, make sure you request tenant screening reports after extending a conditional offer.

How are you adjusting to “Ban the Box” legislation that’s been passed in your state, city, or county? Do you believe the pending legislation will pass?

Let us know in the comment’s section below and subscribe for more updates.


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About the Author

Author Becky BowerBecky Bower is the Communications Executive here at the Resident Screening Blog. She holds a degree in English, with a focus in creative writing, from CSU Channel Islands. Her biggest weakness is cake and favorite superhero is Batman.


  1. These S O B’s should try being a landlord of an employer first. Then these creeps would sing a different tune.Why don’t all of these lowlifes set an example and go hire these losers them self’s. Then all of these smart brains would really know what the hell they are talking about. How about it ?

    1. You’re completely right, Pat. While I’m sure our legislators get information on employment and property ownership, it makes you question where they’re getting their information. Was your state hit by the new ban-the-box legislation?

      1. Some idiot’s in Iowa are trying to have law inforcement offices not use the actual birth date. Only the year of birth. That works real good with people who have very common names. There may only be a dozen or so people for us to try to guess if the applicant in front of us is one of the several criminals who just happens to have born in the same year.

  2. If I run a criminal history on an applicant that has a record of a crime that doesn’t impact what their job would be – do I run any risks if I still deny them?

    1. Unfortunately there is currently no legal precedence for that situation. My first guess would be that it would depend on the severity of the crime. Because there’s no current legal precedence, you do run the risk of legal action (and possibly fines) if you deny them.

  3. Hi Becky. In your post about Washington DC’s pending Fair Criminal Record Screening for Housing Act of 2016 (B21-0706) you state that “property owners can only consider denying applicants based on specified types of convictions, and only if they’ve occurred in the past 7 years.” The actual bill does not include this “7 year” time limit , so my question is where do you get this 7 year time period from? Are you saying that if this bill passes in congress then no DC applicant can be denied housing based on criminal history older than 7 years? What law supports this claim?

    1. Good morning Ehren,
      If you go to the “bill history” tab and click on the first amendment of the bill (dated Dec. 10th) or the Final Reading (under “view enrollment”), you’ll see the 7 year time limit on the first page of the bill. Here’s a link to the final reading:

      When I published this article this bill was still pending, but as of February 15th, 2017, the bill has passed. Unfortunately they have not published the final legislation (now called A21-0677) online yet, so I’m unsure if the 7 year time limit was included. However, considering that it passed 3 draft revisions, it’s very likely that it’s in the official act. Hope this helps!

  4. We should ban the Bastards who dream this shit up. These idiots should be mandated to become landlords and be required to only rent to these lowlifes. Then we would soon see how fast these scumbs change their tune.

  5. How about a comment from the other side? There is no standard of what constitutes a “felony” across the nation. In the State of Florida one can be guilty of, and convicted of, a felony for releasing more than 10 helium filled balloons. This is an activity that is performed at all kinds of events including weddings, birthday parties, fundraising events, etc. The “box” is a horrible tool for screening out those who may pose a “liability” to you. I was convicted of a felony in the State of Florida for possession of $10 worth of cocaine while a recently elected representative got arrested in Washington, DC, with a much larger quantity of cocaine, and faced only misdemeanor charges. Should a person pay the price for the rest of their lives for possessing a small quantity of a controlled substance or releasing some balloons at a kids birthday party? This is what the “box” does. It provides a means of eternal exclusion. In some cases exclusion is warranted, but the facts should be obtained prior to making that decision.

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