On January 30, 2020, the Maryland General Assembly voted to override Governor Larry Hogan’s veto of the “Act Concerning Record Screening Practices (Ban the Box).” Under the Act, employers with 15 or more full-time employees are prohibited from requiring an applicant “to disclose whether the applicant has a criminal record or has had criminal accusations brought against the applicant” before the first in-person interview. The new rule applies to applicants for contractual, temporary, seasonal, or contingent work and for work through a temporary or other employment agency. The Act will take effect February 29, 2020. Although employers may not ask about applicants’ criminal records prior to the first in-person interview, they may require applicants to disclose criminal records during a first in-person interview.
The Act includes an exception for employers who provide “programs, services or direct care to minors or to vulnerable adults” and does not prohibit an employer from making inquiries required by federal or state law. Employers who violate the new rule will receive “an order compelling compliance” for initial violations and may be liable for a civil penalty up to $300 for each applicant for subsequent violations.
It’s important to note that the Act does not preempt any local jurisdiction from enacting laws that are more restrictive with respect to employers’ criminal history screening practices. Currently, Baltimore, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County have Ban the Box laws that are more restrictive than this new state-wide law.
Maryland employers with 15 or more full-time employees are required to comply with the Act and should review and, as necessary, revise their hiring practices to be in compliance. Specifically, employment applications and job postings should be updated to remove any questions about criminal history or language stating criminal history will be addressed. Hiring practices should be modified to ensure that questions about criminal history are not asked before the first in-person interview (or even later for Baltimore, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County). Human resource personnel should also be informed of and trained on the new rule and hiring practices.
For guidance regarding how this legislation affects your business, contact the employment law experts at General Counsel, PC today at 703-991-7973.