The New Ohio “Ban the Box” Law: Private Employers Need Not Worry – For Now

Ohio officially jumped onto the “ban the box” legislative bandwagon in December, 2015 when Governor Kasich signed HB 56 into law. Following a national trend, Ohio’s new law prohibits public employers (defined as state agencies and political subdivisions of the state) from including any question about the applicant’s criminal background in any written application for employment.
Similar “ban the box” legislation has been adopted in other states and municipalities across the country in recent years. Unlike many of these other laws, Ohio’s law does not currently apply to private employers. Even if it did, the law would not necessarily prevent employers from conducting criminal background checks on applicants. Nor would the law prohibit employers from considering criminal background information at some point later in the hiring process.
By prohibiting questions about criminal backgrounds in an employment application – usually one of the first steps in the hiring process, “ban the box” legislation is designed to eliminate the practice of early blanket screening of applicants with criminal records before they have had an opportunity to sell themselves in a face-to-face interview.
Given the national trend, it is certainly possible that there will be proposals to extend this law to private employers in Ohio as well. For the time being, however, private employers need not change their employment application forms.

For more information, contact SS+D’s Labor and Employment Practice Group at kulrich@ssdlaw.com, in our Dayton office at 937.222.2052 or in our Cincinnati area office at 513.644.8125.

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