In late April, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed into law Senate Bill 312, which prohibits political subdivisions (local governments and entities; e.g. cities and counties) from passing any “Ban the Box” laws or ordinances that are more restrictive than applicable federal or state laws, rules or regulations. (Ban the Box laws restrict employers from asking questions about criminal histories in the early stages of hiring.)
Legislators who sponsored the bill said their intent was to create uniformity of criminal records check laws and reduce confusion for businesses, the general public and others affected by these laws. At the present, the state of Indiana does not have a Ban the Box law, so Indiana employers can continue screening as early as practical in the hiring process. (Barada’s “When to Background Check” flow chart provides additional guidance on determining the best time for screening.)
Employers also will not need to remove “criminal record” check boxes on applications, and Indianapolis employers that were previously bound by a local Ban the Box law are now freed from that restraint.
Other Rules Still Apply
Employers still must follow guidance from the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), which prohibits discrimination based upon criminal histories unless the hire meets certain, strict criteria. Legislation is also being considered by the U.S. Congress that could alter the situation, again.
Additionally, shortly before the bill’s passage, Gov. Holcomb publicly announced he would issue an Executive Order that prohibits state government employers from asking job candidates about criminal records at the application stage. This order will not affect private sector firms, even if they work on government jobs or perform government functions.
The Executive Order, if signed, will make Indiana the 27th state in the U.S. to Ban the Box for state employees. We will keep you updated on any new legislation that might impact employers, both public and private. You can view the latest update on all Ban the Box legislation, here.