Alexandra Clauss
Alexandra Clauss

Vermont “Bans the Box”

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Most employers will be prohibited from asking about an individual’s criminal history record on initial employment applications after July 1, 2017, the date Vermont’s “ban the box” statute takes effect.

Once the law takes effect, employers can still ask about a prospective employee’s criminal history record during a job interview or once the applicant has been deemed otherwise qualified for the position. Under the law, if an applicant divulges criminal history in response to an employer inquiry, the employer is required to offer that applicant the opportunity to explain the circumstances, including any post-conviction rehabilitation, if the criminal history record does not disqualify the applicant under federal or state law.

Importantly, this new law contains exceptions for some employers. An employer can still ask about criminal offenses if it is subject to an obligation imposed by federal or state law or regulation that prohibits it from employing an individual who has been convicted of certain criminal offences. However, the questions on the application must be limited only to the types of criminal offenses that create the legal disqualification.

For example, because Vermont’s Licensing and Operating Rules for Nursing Homes disqualify individuals with the following particular offenses from employment, a nursing home’s initial employment application can still ask:

Have you ever (i) been found guilty by a court of law of abusing, neglecting, exploiting or mistreating any individual admitted for care in a facility; or (ii) had a finding entered into the Vermont State Nurse Assistants Registry or the Vermont Adult Abuse Registry concerning abuse, neglect, exploitation or mistreatment of any individual admitted for care in a facility or misappropriation of their property? ___Yes ___ No.

Nursing homes will not be able to ask about other, unrelated criminal offenses on the initial application. Instead, all employers must wait until the interview or until the prospective employee has been deemed otherwise qualified for the position before they can inquire about other types of criminal offenses that are not automatic disqualifiers under state or federal law.

The full text of Vermont’s “ban the box” statute is available HERE. Contact Alexa Clauss today for more information, or to discuss how the “ban the box” statute will affect your business.