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Employers Dinged by Massachusetts Ban the Box Enforcement

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Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy recently made headlines by enforcing the state’s longstanding Ban the Box legislation.[1] In a June 2018 press release, her office announced that they entered into agreements with four national employers found to be in violation of the law and issued warning letters to 17 other Boston area businesses – largely restaurant and retail establishments.

AG Healey determined the employers all violated the state’s Ban the Box law by including the criminal history question on the initial employment application. Of the four national employers, three are now taking steps to come into compliance with the law’s requirements in addition to paying a $5,000 penalty. The fourth national employer filed for bankruptcy but is also taking steps to come into compliance. The 17 local businesses were not fined but were given direction to take “immediate action” in order to comply with the law.

Healy reinforced the primary aim of Ban the Box legislation, stating that “jobs are the pathway to economic security and building a better life. But, unfortunately, many of our residents with criminal records face barriers to securing employment.” Through this enforcement, Healy is sending a clear message to Massachusetts employers that there is a price to pay for non-compliance with the Ban the Box law.

Massachusetts recently passed legislation that modifies the statewide Ban the Box law that goes into effect October 13, 2018. Employers should consult with qualified legal counsel to determine if they are compliant with the current Ban the Box law and if changes to their hiring processes are needed based on the new reforms that will soon take effect. For more information about Massachusetts state law as well as other jurisdictions impacted by Ban the Box laws, please request Asurint’s “Ban the Box and Fair Chance Laws” whitepaper

[1] In August 2010, Massachusetts enacted extensive reforms to its criminal offender record information (CORI) system which included a “Ban the Box” provision that prohibits employers from asking about applicants’ criminal history on the initial written application form.

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