Ban the Box: A Call to the Federal Government to Recognize a New Form of Employment Discrimination

April 1, 2015

As the number of Americans with criminal histories grows significantly, states and cities across the nation have reacted by adopting ban-the-box laws. Ban-the-box laws received their name because they ban the criminal history box on initial hiring documents. The goal of the ban-the-box movement is to promote job opportunities for persons with criminal records by limiting when an employer can conduct a background check during the hiring process and encouraging employers to take a holistic approach when assessing an applicant’s fit for a position.

There is no federal ban-the-box law, but states have taken varying approaches to adopting ban-the-box statutes. States have diverged on whether an employer can conduct a background check, the type of information an employer may consider, and enforcement techniques. The various state approaches, however, can potentially lead to compliance issues for employers that operate their businesses in multiple states.

This Note proposes that the federal government adopt a federal ban-the-box law, which would create a uniform framework for employer compliance. This new federal law should task the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission with enforcement responsibilities, because the agency has consistently proven capable of enforcing employment discrimination statutes.

April 2015

No. 5