North Carolina Bans the Box

North Carolina joins a growing list of States that prohibit asking about criminal history on an employment application for a position with a state agency.  This new law will go into effect on Nov. 1.

The state’s Ban-the-Box law (Executive Order 158), signed by Governor Cooper in August, follows legislation passed in June (the Second Chance Act) that expands expunction opportunities and streamlines the process for people trying to clear their records.  The State estimates that Executive Order 158 will affect more than 1.7 million people in North Carolina who have a criminal record and may face barriers to employment because of that record.

Under the new law, State agencies may conduct a background check, inquire into, or consider a desired candidate’s criminal history at a later point in the Employment Decision process, but not prior to the completion of the initial job interview for the candidate. State employment decisions cannot be based on the criminal history of an individual unless that criminal history is demonstrably job-related and consistent with business necessity associated with the position, or if state or federal law prohibits hiring an individual with certain criminal convictions for a particular position.

When making an Employment Decision, State Agencies are prohibited from considering expunged or pardoned convictions, charges or convictions that do not relate to the underlying employment matter,  arrests not resulting in a conviction, or charges resulting in dismissal or not guilty.

Other states that have implemented some form of ban-the-box laws include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.  Within these state regulations there are substantial variation in key provisions like prohibited conduct; the specified process for taking an adverse action; and any notice, posting, and recordkeeping requirements.