Maine Introduces New Ban-the-Box Law
Maine has passed a new Ban-the-Box law that will go into effect on October 18th, prohibiting employers from inquiring about criminal history until late in the hiring process. This new regulation will prevent employers from inquiring about criminal history on job applications and is intended to reduce the barrier to employment for those with prior involvement in the criminal justice system.
The new bill, Maine LD 1167 (HP 845), was signed into law by Gov. Janet Mills. The law will prohibit employers from inquiring about criminal history on any initial applications for a position, as well as prohibiting the statement that those with a criminal history cannot apply or will not be considered. It further forbids specifying by any means that those with a criminal history will not be considered before otherwise confirming that an applicant is qualified for the position.
There are exceptions to these rules, however, when an employer is legally prohibited from hiring an individual who has been convicted of certain offenses or when they are required to conduct background checks for certain positions.
Violations of any of these provisions will be punishable by a fine of between $100 to $500 per violation. Enforcement will be conducted by the Maine Department of Labor.
Though a significant development in Maine, which until now did not have similar regulations prohibiting background checks during the employment process, this law may have less of an impact than many past ban-the-box type laws due to the pandemic. As a result of recent struggles, many employers have had to find enough workers to fill open positions. Therefore, many employers in Maine had already removed criminal history questions from their job applications in order to encourage more individuals to apply.
This does not mean that employers weren’t asking questions about criminal history, but they were already asking it during the application process in order to discuss it and judge the situation. This would allow them to potentially hire individuals they may have otherwise overlooked.
An important detail to remember with this law is that employers are not forbidden from performing background checks or denying employment based on their results. A quality pre-employment screening process will still be just as important as it was before this law takes effect in October.
Employers will still be able to consider an applicant’s criminal history and make the responsible decision that protects their customers, employees, and property based on its results; they simply must wait until later in the hiring process to do so. Just as always, choosing a quality, knowledgeable provider of pre-employment screening is crucial to helping you stay up to date with laws like these and receive the accurate and relevant information to make the right decisions.