Baltimore, MD has joined the growing list of cities and states around the country implementing “ban the box” legislation.  “Ban the box” legislation restricts inquiries regarding an applicant’s criminal history on applications for employment and during job interviews.  The EEOC recommends “banning the box” believing the use of conviction records excludes applicants and can disparately impact minorities.

The Baltimore Ordinance prohibits employers (who employ 10 or more full-time employees in the city of Baltimore) from, at any time before a conditional offer of employment has been made:  requiring an applicant for employment to disclose or reveal whether he or she has a criminal records or otherwise has had a criminal accusation brought against her or him; conducting a criminal-record check on the applicant; or otherwise making an inquiry of the applicant or others about whether the applicant has a criminal record or otherwise has had criminal accusations brought against her or him.

While many “ban the box” laws only apply to public employers, more and more jurisdictions have passed these laws applying to private employers.  For example, the states of Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Rhode Island have such laws, while the cities of Buffalo, NY, Newark, NJ, Philadelphia, PA, and San Francisco, CA have also enacted “ban the box” laws.  While these jurisdictions currently have laws on the books, similar legislation is pending in numerous states and cities throughout the country.

With an effective date of August 13, 2014, employers with operations in Baltimore, MD need to review their hiring processes to determine what, if any, changes will need to be made to comply.