Ban the BoxThroughout the country, cities and states are implementing policies to “ban the box”, forbidding employers from asking individuals about previous criminal convictions. “Stable employment is a significant factor in reducing the likelihood of reoffending. Yet, research shows that having a criminal record reduces job callbacks by 50 percent.” (HuffPost) The impetus behind “ban the box” is to ease hiring barriers for previously convicted job applicants in order to put job qualifications in the forefront. 

    Details on Baltimore’s “Ban the Box” Ordinance

    Recently, the city of Baltimore adopted a “ban the box” ordinance restricting employer inquiries about a job applicant’s criminal history (Council Bill 13-0301).

    • Employers with 10 or more full-time equivalent employees are covered.
    • Employment is defined as paid work as well as any paid or unpaid vocational or educational training.
    • Employment includes contractual, temporary, seasonal, contingent work, and work through the services of a temporary or other employment agency.


    Steps During Employment Pre-Offer


    • Before a conditional offer of employment is made employers are prohibited from asking, or requiring an applicant to disclose, whether he or she has a criminal record, and from conducting a criminal background check.
    • After an offer has been made, an employer must interview the applicant before making any inquiries or gathering any information about the applicant’s criminal record. Employers are permitted to make any inquiries required or authorized by other applicable laws.
    • The ordinance also prohibits employers from inquiring about or taking any adverse action against an applicant or employee on the basis of any arrest or criminal accusation that is not pending or did not result in a conviction. Employers cannot require individuals to disclose this information.

    Filing Claims and Repercussions

    An individual claiming a violation can file a complaint with the Baltimore Community Relations Commission. Remedies include back pay, reinstatement, compensatory damages, and reasonable attorney’s fees. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against an individual for filing a claim.

    The ordinance takes effect August 13, 2014.

    How to Prepare for the 8/13/14 “Ban the Box” Ordinance – Management Training

    Employers should remove any criminal history inquiries from employment applications and should provide training on the new ordinance to supervisors, managers, and those involved in the hiring process to ensure compliance. Before taking an adverse employment action, employers should review the reasons for the decision to ensure that the decision is based on legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons.

    Guidelines for Pre-Employment Interviews from the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation

    Employers wanting to select qualified and capable individuals through effective, fair and lawful recruitment and selection processes are sometimes confused about the legality or appropriateness of some pre-employment inquiries. Although determining appropriate and nondiscriminatory questions to ask when conducting pre-employment interviews or to include on employment applications is not always an easy task, there are laws, guidelines and policies that provide guidance in this area

    Full details can be found on the Maryland DLLR website HERE

    FosterThomas HR Management and Consulting

    If you need assistance with the pre-offer, hiring and onboarding process, please contact a FosterThomas HR Employment Specialist for assistance.

    Our unique approach to service delivery- a one size does NOT fit all approach- means that our HR solutions are designed to address each of our client’s needs via a customized method, every time. Our results driven HR management solutions are built around achieving these business goals:

    • Increase Workforce Efficiencies
    • Maximize Human Capital Management Investment
    • Mitigate Personal and Professional Risk
    • Contain Cost of Employee Benefits Programs

    Learn More