Republican Governor Nathan Deal signed an executive order this past week adopting a “ban the box” policy for “government entities of the State of Georgia,” making Georgia the first Southern state and only the second “red state” to remove criminal history inquiries from state job applications.
The Georgia order not only “bans the box” but also “prohibit[s] the use of a criminal record as an automatic bar to employment” at any time during the hiring process. The order does not apply to “sensitive governmental positions” where “a criminal history would be an immediate disqualification.”
Though the Georgia order only applies to state agencies, private employers across the country should take note that the “ban the box” movement continues to gain momentum in places one might not expect. To date, 14 states and approximately 100 localities have “banned the box” in one form another. Though many of these laws only apply to public employers, 6 states and 12 localities have “banned the box” for private employers and several more jurisdictions have adopted or encouraged the policy for contractors. Given recent trends, employers should keep up with developing law and make any necessary adjustments to their background check procedures.