Why Ban the Box Might Be Key to Allaying Discrimination Concerns

Nick Fishman

The Fayetteville Observer is reporting that Cumberland county, North Carolina plans to “ban the box” on all government jobs.  For those not familiar with the term, “ban the box” refers to employers excluding the question on their job application which asks the applicant if they have been convicted of criminal activity.  While we’ve written extensively on this topic, I’ve never been a vocifierous supporter or detractor of this measure.

But given the EEOC’s recent hearing on the use of criminal background checks, I’m beginning to warm to the concept.  Banning the box will effectively give everyone a fair chance to be interviewed for a given position.  While not asking about an individual’s criminal history on the application will just delay this eventually coming out, it will give the applicant the opportunity to shine in the interview and even come clean about their past, offering an explanation about what happened and when.

Of course, the employer will still conduct a background check, but at least the candidate will have been allowed a fair chance to convince the employer that they are the right person for the job.  Perhaps measures such as these will make the EEOC moderate their position.

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.
Nick Fishman
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    b/c you don’t think 99.99% of them are going to say “that was a dumb thing i did when I (murdered/raped/assaulted/sold drugs) but I”M A DIFFERENT PERSON NOW.”

    if you believe that, then why do the criminal check at all? just go by what the person said in the interview. if they’re truly remorseful but you’re just going to deny them anyway, why torture them by making them admit it in an interview?

    better to have them focus on jobs that don’t require a clean felony history. My father-in-law owned a moving company. Most of his employees had criminal records (non-violent and no burglaries) but he and they both knew that. Why waste the interviewer and the interviewee’s time if you know darn well you’re not going to hire a paroled rapist?