Understanding Colorado’s New Ban-the-Box Law
Posted by: Emma Berdanier on August 7th, 2019
In May, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed House Bill 19-1025. This makes 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. The entire hiring process, from start to finish, will change.
Next month this law takes effect. We detail below what laws like this do across the country. We also go further into what specific changes Colorado’s law makes.
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. They also require that employers comply with other requirements that vary from law to law.
Theoretically, laws like these give candidates with prior criminal convictions a better chance of securing a job. They allow an employer to get to know a candidate based on their merits without the candidate’s criminal history clouding their judgment. This also gives candidates with prior criminal convictions more jobs to apply to. It makes the interview process easier 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. This law prohibits employers 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.
This law still allows background checks run on potential employees. 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.