Effective January 1, 2017, Connecticut employers will no longer be permitted to inquire into the prior arrests, convictions or criminal charges of job applicants on an initial employment application.
This new “Ban-the-Box” Law applies to all Connecticut employers with one or more employees. The law prohibits employers from asking applicants to disclose a criminal conviction, arrest or criminal charge on the employment application itself. It is permissible for an employer to inquire into an applicant’s criminal history after receipt of an application, so long as any such inquiry is made in accordance with applicable laws, including anti-discrimination laws. Nevertheless, it is considered a best practice to make such inquiries only after a conditional offer of employment has been made. Doing so limits the potential for a discrimination charge and the cost of conducting background checks.
There are two exceptions to the “Ban-the-Box” requirement: 1) when the employer is required by state or federal law to inquire about arrests, criminal charges or convictions for the position the job applicant seeks and 2) when the position requires a security, fidelity or equivalent bond. If the criteria for one of these exceptions are met, then the application must include a statement that the applicant is not required to disclose the existence of any arrest, criminal change or conviction that has been erased or is subject to erasure.
What Should You Do Now?
- Connecticut employers that do not meet one of the exceptions to the law should remove any questions or “check boxes” on their employment applications that inquire about the existence of an applicant’s arrest record, criminal convictions or criminal charges.
- Connecticut employers that do meet one of the exceptions should determine which positions are eligible for the exception and, for those positions only, draft a statement, as described above, to be included on the application for that position.
- Train HR staff and managers about any changes to your organization’s processes and procedures regarding applicants’ criminal histories.
If you have questions, please contact the Pro Bono Partnership. In Fairfield County, you can reach us at 914-328-0674. Outside of Fairfield County, you can reach us at 860-541-4951.