Effective Feb. 29, 2020, a new Maryland law commonly known as a “Ban-the-Box Law” prohibits private employers with 15 or more full-time employees in the state from asking a job applicant about his or her criminal history before an interview. Specifically, subject employers may not require an applicant to disclose whether he or she:
- Has a criminal record; or
- Has had criminal accusations brought against him or her.
An employer may, however, require an applicant to disclose this information during its first, in-person interview with the applicant.
Exceptions to the above prohibitions apply for inquiries that are required or authorized under other laws and for employers that provide programs, services or direct care to minors or vulnerable adults.
The new law also prohibits retaliating or discriminating against any applicant or employee because he or she has claimed a violation.
Although the law’s stated effective date is Jan. 1, 2020, it was not enacted until Jan. 30, 2020, when the state legislature voted to override an earlier veto by the state’s governor. The new, Feb. 29, 2020, effective date was set under the terms of the state’s constitution.
Maryland employers with 15 or more employees should become familiar with the new law, ensure that their job applications are free from any inquiries about criminal history and adjust any other hiring practices and procedures as necessary to ensure that applicants are not asked to disclose the prohibited information before an in-person interview.
Violations of the new “Ban-the-Box” law may result in civil penalties of up to $300 for each applicant or employee involved.