Michigan Puts Halt on ‘Ban the Box’ Laws

If you’re an employer or in human resources, chances are you have heard about ‘ban the box’ laws. Generally ‘ban the box’ is a term used to describe any law that prohibits employers from inquiring about any criminal history of an applicant on a job application. Depending on the state or municipality, these laws will mandate that criminal history not be brought up until a first interview has been completed or a conditional offer of employment has been made.

These laws are meant to assist individuals with a criminal history find employment. The idea is, by eliminating the question from a job application, the candidate has an opportunity to display their qualifications to an employer first, rather than potentially getting eliminated from the hiring pool strictly based off a criminal record. Advocates for years have maintained that waiting until later in the hiring process to ask for criminal history would make the process much fairer and possibly help employers identify the best candidate by looking at qualifications first.

Over that last several years 30 states and over 150 municipalities have passed into law their own version of ‘ban the box’. But recently one state has recently gone against the grain. Recently Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan signed SB 0353 which expands the Local Government Labor Regulatory Act by adding language to prohibit a local government body from regulating what information employers would have to request, require, or exclude during the interview process for employees or potential employees.

In other words, cities and counties in Michigan are prohibited from passing ‘ban the box’ ordinances for private sector employers or other laws that regulate hiring decisions. Basically, they cannot require employers to wait until later in the hiring process, such as after an interview or conditional offer has been made, to ask for criminal history.

So it seems, for now, Michigan will not be joining the ‘ban the box’ movement. Employers in that state can continue to ask a criminal history question during any point of the hiring process. Existing Michigan law does continue to prohibit employers from asking for information pertaining to a misdemeanor arrest or detention that did not result in a conviction. So it’s recommended that Michigan employers review their hiring procedures to ensure misdemeanor non-convictions are not being requested or considered.

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