Private employers with federal contracts will soon be prohibited from requesting criminal history information from candidates at the onset of the hiring process; instead, they will have to wait until after an offer is made.
The Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act of 2019 (Act) was discreetly tucked into the Defense Spending Bill approved on December 20, 2019. The Act is part of a growing national trend of “Ban the Box” laws, referring to the question on job applications asking whether a candidate has been convicted of a crime. Ban the Box laws largely have bipartisan support and, according to the National Employment Law Project, have been approved in 35 states and more than 150 cities across the United States.
As of March 31, 2017, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management already required most federal agencies to wait until the conditional offer stage of the hiring process to request criminal history information from a job candidate. The Act supersedes this regulation and applies the prohibition to both the federal government and now certain private employers.
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