New Push in Congress to Pass a Nationwide Ban the Box Law

By Eric B. Meyer

Some states and cities have made it illegal to ask about criminal convictions on job applications. A new bill introduced last week in both the U.S. House and Senate called the Fair Chance Act may “ban the box” across the country for all federal agencies and federal contractors.

With limited exceptions, the Fair Chance Act would make it unlawful for a federal agencies or federal contractor to request that an applicant for employment disclose criminal history record information before the applicant has received a conditional offer.

According to a press release from Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, the Fair Chance Act has support from the Center for Urban Families, Bend the Arc Jewish Action, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the American Civil Liberties Union, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Employment Law Project, and the National Black Prosecutors Association.

A uniform “ban the box” policy or your company?

Writing for PolitickerNJ, Silvia Alvarez reports that Walmart, Koch Industries, Target, Starbucks, Home Depot, and Bed, Bath & Beyond have already implemented “ban the box.”

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In my neck of the woods, ban the box is the law in both the city of Philadelphia and the state of New Jersey.

If you do business with the government, watch this bill closely. If you have a multi-city or multi-state business, consider a uniform “ban the box” policy to maintain continuity across locations which may have differing rules on ban the box.

This was originally published on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.

You know that scientist in the action movie who has all the right answers if only the government would just pay attention? Eric B. Meyer, Esq. gets companies HR-compliant before the action sequence. Serving clients nationwide, Eric is a Partner at FisherBroyles, LLP, which is the largest full-service, cloud-based law firm in the world, with approximately 210 attorneys in 21 offices nationwide. Eric is also a volunteer EEOC mediator, a paid private mediator, and publisher of The Employer Handbook (, which is pretty much the best employment law blog ever. That, and he's been quoted in the British tabloids. #Bucketlist.