The Law @ Work

Connecticut Becomes Most Recent State to “Ban the Box”

by Amelia J. Holstrom

On June 1, 2016, Connecticut became the most recent state to “ban the box” when Governor Dannel Malloy signed a bill that prohibits employers from asking questions about an employee’s prior arrests and criminal charges or convictions on the initial application for employment, unless state or federal law requires the employer to ask such questions or a security, fidelity or equivalent bond is required for the position for which the employee is applying.

Employers who fit into one of the two limited exceptions allowing them to ask about criminal history on the initial application must include the following disclaimers in “clear and conspicuous language” on the initial employment application:

  1. any person whose criminal records have been erased pursuant to section 46b-146, 54-76o or 54-142a shall be deemed to have never been arrested within the meaning of the general statutes with respect to the proceedings so erased and may so swear under oath;
  2. the applicant is not required to disclose the existence of any arrest, criminal charge or conviction, the records of which have been erased pursuant to section 46b-146, 54-76o or 54-142a; and
  3. criminal records subject to erasure pursuant to section 46b-146, 54-76o or 54-142a are records pertaining to a finding of delinquency or that a child was a member of a family with service needs, an adjudication as a youthful offender, a criminal charge that has been dismissed or nolled, a criminal charge for which the person has been found not guilty or a conviction for which the person received an absolute pardon.

Nothing in the statute prohibits an employer from requesting information about an employee’s criminal history at any point after the initial job application.  As a result, employers may continue to discuss these issues in the job interview or make the inquiry, in writing or verbally, any time other than on the initial application.

Notably, the statute does not provide an individual with a private right of action against the employer.  An applicant may only file a complaint with the state’s Labor Commissioner.

The law will go into effect on January 1, 2017. Between now and then, employers should review their employment applications and make any changes that are necessary to comply with the new law.

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