Ban the Box in Monroe County: How It Affects the Job Search

September 05, 2023

Job applicants for Monroe County government may soon notice a change in the hiring process. For example, those with criminal convictions no longer have to disclose their background on applications. This change is because the Monroe County government recently implemented “ban the box” regulations.

This legislation, the Monroe County Fair Chance Employment Act, prohibits local government positions from inquiring about criminal backgrounds. As such, applications will not have check boxes for applicants to indicate whether they have a prior criminal history. Legislators across the aisle came together in a 20-9 vote to approve this Act. They hope it will eliminate the significant roadblock for many potential applicants.

What It Does

Monroe County’s Commission on Racial and Structural Equity report from 2021 recommended implementing rules like this to address concerns about inequality in county governance. Proponents of the Act note that applicants of color frequently face disproportionate disadvantages when disclosing criminal records. As such, this “ban the box” rule could open employment opportunities by prohibiting employers from asking about criminal history. 

However, the Act did include exceptions. For example, the Act does not eliminate the ability to inquire about criminal backgrounds. Instead, the county must offer conditional employment before running a background check. It also exempts law enforcement positions because these follow stricter background check requirements.

Monroe County’s Fair Chance Employment Act is part of a national “ban the box” trend. Like other local governments, the county introduced laws that limit employers’ ability to inquire about candidates’ criminal histories. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, most states and over 100 cities have enacted similar regulations. 

Expected Effect

Many legislators hope this “ban the box” law will ease the struggles of job seekers with criminal records. Many agree that acquiring work improves the individuals’ odds of reforming. Others hope it will also prevent the derailing of careers for candidates with minor offenses. Unfortunately, many candidates believe their record automatically disqualifies them from civil service; thus, they never apply. However, “ban the box” works against that perception. 

As a result, those seeking employment in Monroe County with a criminal history can now confidently apply to county jobs. Applicants for other work or outside Monroe County can look forward to “ban the box” laws growing in popularity and spreading in reach. Regardless of whether “ban the box” applies, applicants should conduct self-background checks before applying for jobs. This step allows you to correct errors and prepare explanations for any negative information.

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