Ban the Box In California Could Inhibit Employment Screening

Nick Fishman

Several communities in the state of California have passed or are considering banning the box legislation, a measure that will remove the check box on a job application in which a job candidate must divulge if they have been convicted of a felony.  As other states such as Connecticut, New Mexico and Massachusetts have enacted such laws, we’ve haven’t had a strong opinion one way or the other.  Why?  Because even if you don’t ask the question on the application, you can still conduct an employment background check and determine if the person has a criminal record.  I guess we would have to say we like this measure, because we probably conduct more background checks as a result of candidates not being initially rejected.  On the employer side, they are probably spending more money on background checks and recruiting than they ordinarily would.

Our opinion changes dramatically when you talk about doing so in the state of California as they do not report, nor allow employers to use criminal records older than seven years.  Therefore, if you take the conviction box off the application and the person committed a felony longer than seven years ago, you’ll never know it happened.  This certainly puts employers at a disadvantage when trying to make an informed hiring decision.  In my opinion, the state should pick a lane.  Either allow records to be reported regardless of age or continue the practice of asking the candidate if they have been convicted of a felony on the job application.

Nick Fishman
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Nick Fishman

Nick Fishman is the co-founder of EmployeeScreenIQ, a leading, global employment background screening provider, and serves as the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He pioneered the creation of EmployeeScreen University, the #1 educational resource on employment background checks for human resources, security and risk management professionals. A recognized industry expert, Nick is a frequent author, presenter and contributor to the news media. Nick is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio and Texas.
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  • Name Pray4Peace

    If ex-offenders stayed out of trouble for seven years in a state where everyone released is on parole and the recidivism rate is the highest in the nation, it is unlikely they will commit new crime. (Recidivism +70%!)

    Considering the effort they must have made to keep from returning to prison in California, the state of higher incarceration, most would be excellent employees. It is common sense to ban the box.

    Too many people ignore the Bible and its stories of redemption such as the prodigal son and the theif on the cross.