On November 2, President Obama issued an executive order, banning the box for federal government employees. This would remove the box on government job applications which asks candidates if they have been convicted of a crime.
In 2012, the EEOC recommended in their guidance on the use of criminal information in employment decisions that would remove a candidate from consideration before given a fair opportunity. This type of disparate treatment and disparate impact is what the Ban the Box movement has been working to eliminate.
Ban the Box laws have been enacted in several cities and states around the United States, however, this is the first action taken with regards to federal government employees. The basic premise of this law is simple: To allow candidates to be considered beyond the initial job application where refusal was commonplace based on admitting that they had been convicted of a crime. The EEOC wants to ensure all individuals have a fair chance at employment.
By signing this into law, President Obama has extended the ability of persons with convictions on their records to have a fair chance at employment in a position with the federal government. The law is not a guarantee of an applicant being hired, but rather provides a chance to be interviewed, showcase additional skills and be looked at as a candidate rather than immediately being dismissed based on a criminal past.
In the past several years, 19 states have banned the box for public sector jobs, while 7 states have banned it in all hiring. California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia are the states where public sector jobs cannot ask about criminal history on the job application. Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, and Rhode Island have banned the box for private employers.