The least you should know about Georgia’s Ban the Box

by Damon Elmore

We have recently received a lot of questions about the Governor’s Executive Order dated February 23, 2015, known as Ban The Box. Generally, it prohibits questions about arrests and convictions for most applicants and candidates. So, for this latest update, I wanted to explain what you need to know about Ban The Box.

The most important thing you should keep in mind is that the Order applies to State agencies only. It does not apply to private employers in Georgia. That’s most important.

But, what’s the purpose? The Order directs state government agencies to implement a hiring policy to encourage “full participation” of motivated and qualified persons with criminal histories. It prohibits the use of a criminal record as an automatic bar to employment and allows candidates with such records to explain the circumstances at a later stage of the screening process.

The aim is to promote the accurate use and interpretation of a criminal record, as well as provide qualified applicants with the opportunity to discuss any inaccuracies, contest the content and relevance of a criminal record, and provide information that demonstrates rehabilitation. Procedurally, it is also designed to prevent the use of an application form that inappropriately excludes qualified job applicants. Finally, it does not apply to sensitive positions like prison guards or security officers.

What does this mean for you? Not much … right now. Georgia is the 14th state (the first in the South) to adopt the policy, along with states as diverse as Nebraska, New Mexico, California and Hawaii. Nationally, nearly 100 cities, including Washington, D.C., have adopted the a similar policy so, it is trending. Other versions of Ban The Box eventually were also applied to private employers in Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island and NJ. On top of that, the federal EEOC recommended removing conviction questions in a 2012 report and subsequently issued enforcement guidance on the use of arrest and conviction records in employment decisions. Advocates have also pressed the President for a federal equivalent. We will keep you updated with any information that may impact your business and your human resources processes.

Our NS 360° team can help with all of your HR Law and Employment questions. Feel free to contact Damon Elmore via e-mail at damon@nowellsparks.com or directly at 404.518.5759.

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