Ban the Box Signed into Law at the Federal Level


Ban the Box Signed into Law at the Federal Level

The Ban the Box civil rights campaign that began in the 1990s finally broke through at the federal level when President Trump signed The Fair Chance Act into law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 on December 20, 2019. When the Act goes into effect December 20, 2021, it will become illegal for the federal government and its contractors to request disclosure of past criminal convictions by potential employees on their job applications or otherwise seeking out that information prior to a conditional offer of employment–except for certain instances.

Most employers and recruiters should already be aware of the laws that affect, or could soon affect, their specific hiring processes because at the time the Act was signed, 35 states and more than 150 cities/counties had already passed Ban the Box laws of some kind. Plus, in 2015, President Barack Obama mandated the Office of Personnel Management to “ban the box” from all federal job applications. In essence, the Act now makes that mandate into law and lengthens its reach to include federal contractors, too.

Exceptions to Federal Ban the Box Regulations

Of course, there are some circumstances under which it makes sense that the Act will not apply. Requests for criminal history disclosures can still be made:

  • Where the law requires criminal background checks;
  • Where “an individual hired under the contract to access classified information or to have sensitive law enforcement or national security duties”; and
  • Other regulations to be identified and issued by the Office of Personnel Management no later than April 2021.

The Fair Chance Act as Law

Prior to the Act going into effect, the Office of Personnel Management will have established a formal complaint process for job candidates who experience violations of the law as well as penalties for violators. Businesses need to be ahead of the law and prepared to comply in their background screens, application, interviews and other processes well before the Act become law.

In order to ensure compliance with any and all Ban the Box laws currently–or soon to be–in effect, employers and recruiters can Ask ClearStar to manage their hiring processes. ClearStar teams stay on top of these ever-changing regulations so businesses can have confidence that their hires are unquestionably the best available and the most qualified after a fair and legal application process.


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