Throughout his two terms in office, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy has been influential in implementing numerous reforms in the state’s criminal justice system. Many of his plans—known collectively as the “Second Chance Society”—have focused on rehabilitating non-violent and drug offenders rather than continuing to emphasize criminal penalties. Last summer, Governor Malloy renewed his efforts to help former offenders to become productive members of society once again by signing a measure that limits most employers’ ability to ask about a job applicant’s criminal history.
“Ban the Box” Laws on the Rise
The new law took effect on January 1, 2017, making Connecticut one of 26 states to institute what has become known as a “Ban the Box” statute. The phrase was coined by civil rights groups in reference to the check box on many job applications that an applicant must check if he or she has a criminal record. Proponents of such laws believe that employers tend to screen out applicants with blemishes in their background, despite being otherwise qualified for an available position.
Connecticut’s version of the law makes it illegal for an employer to ask about an applicant’s criminal history on an initial job application. Once the application is processed and the applicant is offered an interview or conditional employment, however, the employer is then permitted to ask about the applicant’s criminal record. The intent of the law is to help employers focus on an applicant’s qualifications first, instead of his or her past. Employers who fail to comply with the new requirements may be fined $300 per violation.
While most employers must follow the new law, there are some that may continue to ask about a person’s criminal background from the very beginning. An employer who is required to inquire about prospective employee’s criminal record by state or federal law may still include such questions on an initial application. The same is true when the open position requires a security or fidelity bond or an equivalent bond.
The Ban the Box law looks to help even the playing field to an extent for reformed criminal offenders across the state, but similar ordinances were already in place in some municipalities. Cities like Hartford and New Haven prohibit private employers who provide services to the city from running a background check on a job applicant until a conditional offer of employment is made. In all cases, criminal background checks must be handled in a non-discriminatory manner, or the employer could be subject to local, state, and federal sanctions.
A Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
If you have been charged with a crime, a conviction is likely to create complications that follow you for the rest of your life. Contact an experienced Hartford criminal defense lawyer for help in protecting your future. Call [[phone1]] for a free consultation at Woolf Law Firm, LLC today.