“Ban the Box”
The new Maryland law, the Criminal Record Screening Practices Act (the Act), will take effect on February 29, 2020.
What are the details?
Under the Act, employers with at least 15 full-time employees may not, before the first in-person interview, require an applicant for employment to disclose whether the applicant has a criminal record or has had criminal accusations brought against the applicant. The Act applies not only to traditional employment, but also applies more broadly to “any work for pay and any form of vocational or educational training, with or without pay,” including contractual, temporary, seasonal, or contingent work, and work assigned through a temporary or other employment agency.
Under the Act, an employer may require an applicant to disclose during the first in-person interview whether the applicant has a criminal record or has had criminal accusations brought against the applicant.
Employers also are prohibited from retaliating or discriminating against an applicant or employee as retribution for alleging a violation of the Act.
The Act does not apply to employers that provide programs, services, or direct care to minors or vulnerable adults. The Act also does not prohibit an employer from making a criminal record inquiry or taking other action that the employer is required or authorized to take under another federal or state law.
What do employers need to do?
- Review employment applications to ensure they do not include any prohibited inquiries about an applicant’s criminal history.
- Review their advertisements (paper and electronic) soliciting applications and remove any language that states applicants will not be considered for employment because of their criminal history.
- Educate key employees in the hiring process about the ordinance’s requirements.
- Update forms and practices for inquiring into an applicant’s criminal record, after the initial employment application process is completed.
For each subsequent violation, in the Commissioner’s discretion, the Commissioner may asses a civil penalty of up to $300.