Evolution of “Ban the Box” Laws and Why Your Standard Background Check Forms May No Longer Be Sufficient

The use of background checks as a part of the hiring process has become ubiquitous. A lingering common practice – using standardized disclosure forms from third-party vendors or which have been used by the company for as long as you can remember – can become a source of dangerous legal exposure. What do you need to know about modern legal standards and what should you do to avoid a common legal pitfall?

To obtain background reports, many employers go through third-party vendors who often provide sample forms as part of their background check screening packages. Many organizations simply take these forms and implement them into their new hire processes “as is,” assuming they are sufficient to meet their legal obligations. However, the recent expansion and evolution in state and local “Ban the Box” and similar criminal history laws has disrupted the practice of using standardized background forms and processes – and should force you to take a second look at your own practices.    

You should take a good hard look at your background check forms and processes prior to implementing to ensure they are compliant not only with federal requirements, but also state and local considerations. Given the web of criminal history laws at play, you are further encouraged to seek legal counsel for advice and assistance in reviewing these forms and procedures, to avoid complex lawsuits that can arise as a result of using outdated and/or generic forms.

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