Montgomery County Council Enacts “Ban the Box” Bill

Montgomery County Council Enacts “Ban the Box” Bill

Last week, the Montgomery County Council unanimously enacted Bill 35-20, Human Rights and Civil Liberties - Fair Criminal Record Screening Standards – Amendments, which aims to help prevent workplace discrimination by prohibiting background checks prior to the extension of a conditional offer of employment and preventing inquiries into certain types of arrests and convictions. Councilmember Will Jawando is the lead sponsor of this legislation.

“Here in Montgomery County, we uphold the ideal that people should not be punished continuously for errors in judgment that happened in the past,” said Councilmember Will Jawando. “If a person has paid their debt to society, or if they have been arrested and found not guilty or not charged at all, we believe they should have access to the same economic opportunities as anyone else. This legislation will strengthen our commitment to those principles and help ensure that residents do not face the undue burden of discrimination when seeking employment.”

Bill 35-20 would:

  • alter definitions regarding fair criminal record screening standards;

  • prohibit certain inquiries regarding criminal records;

  • prohibit consideration of certain arrests and convictions in employment decisions; and

  • generally amend the law regarding criminal record screenings.

In 2014, the Council enacted the “Ban the Box” law, which prohibited employers of 15 or more full-time employees (FTEs) in the County from conducting a criminal background check of a job applicant, or otherwise inquiring about the criminal or arrest history of an applicant, prior to the completion of a first interview.

Bill 35-20 expands the scope of the law by prohibiting background checks until after a conditional job offer has been extended. The bill also prevents inquiries about certain crimes altogether. In addition, it redefines “employer” to include any employer in the County, except certain types of employers such as those that provide services to minors or vulnerable adults.