Ban the Box Laws by State and Municipality

Author: David B. Weisenfeld, XpertHR Legal Editor

Ban the Box refers to the "box" on job application forms asking prospective employees whether they have ever been convicted of a crime. Some jurisdictions make it illegal for employers to ask applicants such questions until the interview stage while others ban the practice until a conditional job offer has been made.

The trend of states and municipalities enacting these so-called "ban the box" laws is part of a movement to prevent employers from treating all criminal convictions as a sort of "Scarlet Letter" that has the effect of discriminating against minority applicants.

This chart features states and key municipalities with "ban the box" laws that apply in some way to private employers. States that either have no ban the box requirement or have a requirement that is limited to public employers are marked N/A.

Additional details are available in many cases by clicking on the relevant state or locality.


State Key Municipalities Covered Employers Notes
Alabama N/A
Alaska N/A
Arizona N/A
Arkansas N/A
California N/A
Compton Contractors doing business with city Background check allowed only after conditional job offer
Los Angeles Any employer in the city with 10 or more employees Effective January 22, 2017, criminal history questions only after conditional job offer
Richmond Private employers with 10 or more employees that contract with city Applies regardless of where the employer is based
San Francisco Private employers with 20 or more employees, contractors, subcontractors
Colorado N/A
Connecticut Private employers Effective January 1, 2017
Hartford Contractors doing business with the city Background checks only after conditional employment offer
New Haven Contractors doing business with the city Background checks only after conditional job offer
Delaware N/A
District of Columbia All employers with more than 10 employees Background check only after conditional employment offer
Florida N/A
Georgia N/A
Hawaii Private employers No criminal history inquiries prior to conditional employment offer
Idaho N/A
Illinois Private employers with 15 or more employees
Chicago Private employers with less than 15 employees Bans criminal history questions prior to job interview, or before conditional job offer if no interview occurs
Cook County Private employers with less than 15 employees Mirrors Chicago's criminal history ordinance
Indiana N/A
Indianapolis Contractors doing business with the city No criminal history questions until after first interview
Iowa N/A
Kansas N/A
Kentucky N/A
Louisville Contractors doing business with the city City prefers vendors that ban the box on job applications and may terminate contracts with those that do not
Louisiana N/A
Maine N/A
Maryland N/A
Baltimore All employers with 10 or more employees No criminal records checks or inquiries until a conditional job offer has been made
Montgomery County Any employer employing 15 or more persons in the county No criminal history questions or background checks until after first interview
Prince George's County Any employer with 25 or more full-time employees in the county No criminal history questions or background checks until after first interview
Massachusetts Private employers
Boston Contractors/vendors doing business with the city
Cambridge Contractors/vendors doing business with the city
Worcester Contractors/vendors doing business with the city
Michigan N/A
Detroit Contractors doing business with the city when contract is for $25,000 or more No criminal conviction questions until contractor interviews applicant or determines applicant is qualified
Kalamazoo Contractors providing services to the city for more than $25,000 or those seeking tax abatement Must show commitment that they don't use criminal history to discriminate in employment
Minnesota Private employers
Mississippi N/A
Missouri1 N/A
Columbia All employers within city limits Bans criminal history questions until after conditional job offer
Montana N/A
Nebraska N/A
Nevada N/A
New Hampshire N/A
New Jersey Any employer with 15 or more employees over 20 calendar weeks Includes provision preempting local laws, most notably this supersedes a Newark law which applied to employers with five or more employees
New Mexico N/A
New York N/A
Buffalo Private employers with 15 or more employees/Contractors doing business with the city Bans criminal history questions on initial job applications
New York City All employers with four or more employees No criminal inquiries prior to conditional job offer
Rochester All employers with four or more employees and contractors doing business with city No criminal history inquiries until after initial job interview or conditional job offer
Syracuse City contractors No criminal history inquiries, background checks until after conditional job offer
North Carolina N/A
North Dakota N/A
Ohio N/A
Oklahoma N/A
Oregon Private Employers
Portland Employers with six or more employees No asking about or accessing criminal records before conditional job offer
Pennsylvania N/A
Philadelphia All employers with at least one employee in the city No criminal background checks prior to conditional job offer
Pittsburgh Contractors/vendors doing business with the city Bans criminal history inquiries until applicant is deemed otherwise qualified for a position
Rhode Island Employers with four or more employees
South Carolina N/A
South Dakota N/A
Tennessee N/A Preempts cities and counties from extending state ban the box law to private employers
Texas N/A
Austin Employers with 15 or more employees No criminal history questions or criminal background checks until conditional job offer has been made
Utah N/A
Vermont Private employers Effective July 1, 2017
Virginia
Washington N/A
Seattle Any employer with one or more employees
West Virginia N/A
Wisconsin N/A
Madison Contractors doing business with city on contracts worth more than $25,000 No criminal history questions, background checks until after conditional offer
Wyoming N/A
1While Kansas City has a "ban the box" law that does not apply to private employers, it explicitly urges them to adopt fair hiring practices that encourage the rehabilitation of people with criminal records.