Understanding Colorado’s New Ban-the-Box Law

  • Posted by: Emma Berdanier |
  • 8/7/19 |
  • 12:00 AM
Understanding Colorado’s New Ban-the-Box Law

This May, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed House Bill 19-1025, making Colorado the 12th state to implement a ban-the-box law. This law will take effect on September 1, 2019 for all employers with 11 or more employees, and on September 1, 2021 for all other employers, regardless of how many employees they have. Once it takes effect, this bill will directly change how employers can market open job positions to potential employees and what questions they may ask applicants during the hiring process.

As this law takes effect next month, below is some information to better understand what laws like this do and what Colorado’s law specifically changes for employers.

Defining Ban-the-Box:

Ban-the-box laws refer to any law that bans the use of a question on job applications that asks candidates whether or not they have ever been convicted of a crime. The “box” simply refers to that box on the application that would ask about prior criminal history. All ban-the-box laws require employers to remove this question, thus banning the box, as well as comply with other requirements that vary from law to law.

Theoretically, laws like these give candidates with prior criminal convictions a better chance at securing a job, as it allows an employer to get to know a candidate based on their merits without the employer’s judgement being clouded by the knowledge of the candidate’s criminal history. This also gives candidates with prior criminal convictions more jobs to apply to, and an easier time in interviews as they are not obligated to divulge information about their past.

Currently there are 12 states with these laws in place, with Colorado being the newest state to join.

Colorado’s New Law:

Under the new law signed by Governor Polis, employers must comply with the following restrictions during the hiring process, including how they market open positions at their company. Effective with this law, employers are prohibited from:

  • Advertising anywhere that a person with a criminal history may not apply for a position.
  • Writing anywhere in a job posting or employment application that a person with a criminal history may not apply for a position.
  • Asking about an applicant’s criminal history during the hiring process.

It should be noted that this new law does not prohibit the use of background checks. An employer may obtain an applicant’s publicly available criminal background report at any time during the hiring process.

An employer is only exempt from these restrictions if and when other laws, whether federal or state, directly state that a person with a particular criminal history is prohibited from being employed in a particular job. Only then may employers in their job postings and other advertisements state that someone with a criminal history may not apply, and may they ask about an applicant’s criminal history.


  • “Ban the Box.” BackgroundChecks, https://www.backgroundchecks.com/banthebox. Accessed 24 July 2019.
  • “Limits on Job Applicant Criminal History Inquiries.” Colorado General Assembly, https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb19-1025. Accessed 24 July 2019.

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