Rhode Island enacts Ban the Box law

Senate Bill 357 (SB 357) – a “Ban the Box” law that will prohibit inquiries from employers on job applications regarding prior criminal convictions. Although, an exception would be when federal or state law specifically disqualifies a person from employment due to a prior conviction or authorizes such inquiries. SB 357 will make it an “unlawful employment practice” for an employer to inquire about whether an applicant has ever been convicted of a crime before the first interview with the following exceptions:

  • If the application is for law enforcement agency positions or positions related to law enforcement agencies;
  • If a federal or state law or regulation creates a mandatory or presumptive disqualification from employment based on a person’s conviction of one or more specified criminal offenses, an employer may include a question or otherwise inquire whether the applicant has ever been convicted of any of 1 those offenses; or
  • If a standard fidelity bond or an equivalent bond is required for the position for which the applicant is seeking employment and his or her conviction of one or more specified criminal offenses would disqualify the applicant from obtaining such a bond, an employer may include a question or otherwise inquire whether the applicant has ever been convicted of any of those offenses.
Rhode island isn’t the first state to enact legislation such as this, and it’s unlikely to be the last. The ‘box’ has been a big part of pre-employment screening over the years, and provided a useful indication to employers as to the best hiring decisions for open vacancies.]]>

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