What Is a Ban-The-Box Law and What Does It Mean for Employers
All ban-the-box laws serve to stop employers from asking job applicants about their criminal history during their initial job application. Some employment laws even go a step further and require employers to wait until they have made a conditional offer of employment or conducted an interview before asking about an applicant’s criminal history.
In some states and cities, like California, employers are obligated to engage in a multi-factored individual analysis to assess whether the applicant’s criminal record justifies denying employment. If employment is denied, the employer must notify the applicant.
There are, however, exceptions to the ban-the-box laws. For example, security-related jobs requiring working with the elderly, vulnerable adults, and children are exempt from this law.
Which Employers Must Comply With Ban-the-Box Laws?
Ban-the-box laws are not federal laws. They are laws passed by cities and states. Back in the day, they applied to government employers only, but as more and more cities and states passed these laws, they have started to apply to private employers.
Currently, 14 states have passed ban-the-box laws to include private employers — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
In addition to that, more than 30 states have employment laws that apply to government employers. Several cities have also passed such laws, especially those in metropolitan areas, so it is best to consult with an attorney to check if your state or city has ban-the-box regulations in place.
Other Laws Employers Should Be Aware of
Even though not all states have ban-the-box laws, there are various federal anti-discrimination laws that employers should always be mindful of. Denying employment to people with criminal records can impact certain racial groups, which is what The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) warns against.
Some states have passed additional regulations prohibiting employers from considering expunged or sealed criminal records during the hiring process. This includes juvenile records and arrests that didn’t lead to a conviction.
Employment laws greatly depend on the state or city you are in, and that is why it is best to always consult with an employment attorney before you start screening job applicants.
Employment Law FAQ
If you have been discriminated against, you can seek your rights as this is considered illegal by federal and state employment laws. If your employer has acted illegally, it is possible to sue them. Before you take any legal action, however, it is important to understand your rights as an employee and the HR policies at your workplace.
Under employment law, it is prohibited to discriminate against any person in any of the following protected classes:
● Sexual harassment
Other prohibited activities are:
● Failing to afford employees adequate breaks
● Failing to pay earned overtime wages
If you believe that your employer has violated your rights, you can take legal action against them. It is wise to consult with an experienced employment law attorney to evaluate the appropriate steps to enforce your rights.
If you qualify for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and your employer still refuses to accept your leave request, this may be a solid legal claim. Your employer is likely violating your rights under the FMLA by refusing to approve your leave requests or terminating your employment for requesting leave in the first place.
If you’re uncertain about whether you’ve been wrongfully terminated, here are some other examples of possible wrongful termination:
● Fired after filing a claim against the company
● After refusing illegal actions
● Retaliation over workers compensation claims
● If your employer has fired you in violation of public policy, company policy, or a written contract
An at-will state means a state in which an employer has the right to fire an employee at any time for any reason, as long as the basis for termination is not retaliatory, discriminatory, or illegal in nature. Simply said, if you work in an at-will state, your employer is allowed to fire you for any reason (sometimes with no reason at all), granted that there are certain exceptions and limitations. To better understand your employment rights in at-will states, it’s best to consult with a lawyer.
If you believe your employer is engaged in illegal activity, you can file a whistleblower claim to expose them. Whistleblowers are employees who report unethical or illegal conduct and are entitled to legal protection. Depending on the fraud or unethical situation, you may even be entitled to compensation for reporting your employer under the federal False Claims Act.
Both federal and state laws protect whistleblowers regardless if they are in the public or private sector. However, before filing a claim to report your employer’s fraudulent behavior, it’s crucial to speak to an attorney to ensure your rights are protected.
It is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you if you have enforced your rights. Unlawful retaliation includes demotions, suspensions, unfavorable or unethical treatment, and outright termination. If you believe your employer has mistreated you, you can contact an employment law attorney and discuss your options following illegal retaliation.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is part of federal law that allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for health issues or family-related matters, such as childbirth and taking care of a newborn. If you take a leave of absence under FMLA, your employer is obligated to allow you to come back to work in the same capacity (or an equivalent position) as you had before your leave.
Generally, overtime pay is available to workers who work more than 40 hours per week. These employees are entitled to overtime wages that are typically one and a half times their regular hourly rate. However, there are exceptions to overtime pay, and some employees are not entitled to receive such wages. To ensure you’re eligible to receive overtime pay, you need to check with your supervisor/employer and consult with a legal expert.
Employment law is complex and sometimes difficult to understand without consulting a legal expert. If you’re in a situation that requires you to seek your rights or you’re not certain if your rights have been violated, it’s best to consult with a lawyer who can explain your situation and options. Deciding to file a claim against an employer is no easy decision, and it’s beneficial to do it with a legal expert by your side.