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Ban the Box Amendments

Published:  June 8, 2018

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In the middle of last month, Governor Baker signed a bill which will amend Massachusetts’ current “Ban the Box” legislation. The new bill expands some of the protections afforded to job applicants, and unfortunately, will place additional burdens on employers, including revision of any standard application forms.

Starting in October 2018, the following changes will take effect:

1)      Misdemeanor Convictions

Employers will now only be able to ask about misdemeanor convictions that occur in the three years prior to application. The previous iteration of the statute banned employers from asking about misdemeanor convictions that occurred within the five years prior to the application.

This change applies to both written and oral questioning. Make sure you update your application forms and retrain your interviewers.

2)      Expunged Convictions

Employers are now completely barred from asking applicants about expunged or sealed records. Again, this change also applies to both written and oral questioning. Make sure you update your application forms and retrain your interviewers.

The new bill also creates new notice language relative to expunged records that is now required on all requests for criminal record information:

“An applicant for employment with a record expunged pursuant to section 100F, section 100G, section 100H or section 100K of chapter 276 of the General Laws may answer “no record” with respect to any inquiry herein relative to prior arrests, criminal court appearances or convictions.”

These changes have definite value. They apply primarily to offenses that will have little impact on a potential employee’s viability and/or trustworthiness. While these changes may appear minor, employers should be careful not to neglect these requirements. All employers should take the steps to implement these changes.

Special attention should be paid by employers that use a third party application system. If, for example, you use an automated website to handle your job postings and applications, you may unknowingly be in violation of the statute. Third party services may be located outside the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and may not conform to the legal requirements of Massachusetts’ Ban the Box Laws. Even if your applications are handled by a third party, you will still be responsible for any violation of law.

If you have any questions regarding Massachusetts' Ban the Box Laws, or any other aspects of labor and employment law, please contact the attorneys at Royal, P.C.

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