“Ban the Box” & Pre-Employment Criminal Records Checks – An In-Depth Look

Representative Hansen Clarke (D-MI-13) has proposed HR 6220, to prohibit an employer from inquiring whether an applicant for employment has been convicted of a criminal offense, except in certain circumstances. Referred to as the “Ban the Box Act”, this bill is of similar intent to “Second Chance” legislation previously offered by other lawmakers in recent years.  In our opinion there is no need to panic.  It is HIGHLY UNLIKELY that HR 6220 will pass the House in this 112th Congress. It must work through three committees before it will reach the floor for a vote.

ISPLA has reviewed this 13-page bill which seeks to eliminate questions on job applications regarding whether an applicant might have a criminal conviction record and to only allow a criminal a criminal background check to be undertaken after a conditional offer of employment has been made to the applicant contingent on such records check being clear. Presently there are only two exceptions for allowing a criminal conviction search to be undertaken. They are:

(1)  After a conditional offer of employment has been extended to the applicant.

(2) Where the granting of employment may involve an unreasonable risk to the safety of specific individuals or to the general public.

The second exception could presently be interpreted to cover many businesses.

ISPLA conferred with Congressman Clarke’s staff expressing some of the concerns of the background screening industry, the human resource sector of businesses, and those investigative and security professionals who engage in this segment of investigation services.  His staff expects that the bill will be amended to reflect some of the concerns.

A significant number in his district are minority constituents where a higher percentage than the general population has criminal convictions. It is the bill sponsor’s position that those who have served their time and paid their debt to society are worthy of consideration for employment for those jobs in which the public would not be harmed by their presence or work.  His staff contends: “This legislation would give ex-offenders a second chance while still allowing employers to conduct background checks.”  In the unlikely event that his bill even passes, we were advised that it is not the intent of the bill to disallow criminal record checks when the candidate selection has been narrowed to several apparently qualified candidates. However, the bill’s language does not provide for such procedure in its present form

Should this bill be enacted then “no later than one year the Equal Opportunity Commission shall issue rules –

(1)  defining categories of employment where an individual’s past criminal history may involve unreasonable risk to the safety of specific individuals or to the general public;

(2)  factors to be considered by employers in assessing whether an individual’s past criminal history poses such an unreasonable risk.”


About securityteknews
Ralph Thomas is author of over 32 books on various aspects of conducting investigations, founder and director of The National Association Of Investigative Specialists,CEO of Thomas Investigative Publications, Inc, The Spy Exchange And Security Center and SpyTek Wholesale Imports. Thomas is a member of the Executive Security Council of Griffith Colson Intelligence Service, a private intelligence agency. Thomas's latest project is NAIStv on the Griffith Media TV Network. He has also developed A Native American Store in Georgetown Texas called Tribal Impressions. You can review his person home page off of: http://www.pimall.com/thomas

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