Connecticut Bans Criminal History Box for Private Employers

Author: David B. Weisenfeld, XpertHR Legal Editor

June 14, 2016

Connecticut has become the ninth state to pass a law banning most private employers from asking criminal history questions on job applications. Effective January 1, 2017, Connecticut employers will not be able to ask about a prospective employee's prior arrests, criminal charges or convictions on an initial application.

The new law also reiterates that no employer may require a prospective employee to disclose the existence of any arrest, criminal charge or conviction if the records have been erased. However, Connecticut will not prohibit private employers from making criminal history inquiries later in the hiring process. It also does not preclude them from conducting background checks.

The Constitution State already prohibits public employers from asking criminal history questions on an initial job application. But this new law will extend the ban to all employers. The only exceptions are if an applicable federal or state law requires an employer to make a criminal history inquiry or if the job that the applicant is seeking requires a security bond.

Other states that have passed "ban the box" laws affecting private employers include:

  • Hawaii;
  • Illinois;
  • Massachsuetts;
  • Minnesota;
  • New Jersey;
  • Oregon;
  • Rhode Island; and
  • Vermont.

In all, 24 states have eliminated criminal history questions from their initial job applications either by law, executive order or as a matter of state policy. More than 100 municipalities have passed ban the box ordinances, many of which go beyond state law prohibitions. For instance, Connecticut employers should be aware that Hartford and New Haven ban private employers that have contracts with those cities from conducting criminal background checks until making a conditional job offer.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has stated in an Enforcement Guidance that before any employer rejects an applicant with a criminal record from employment, it should give the applicant a chance to explain the circumstances and why he or she deserves consideration.