In August 2020, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed an executive placing restrictions on employee background checks across the state. Known as Ban the Box, the law intends to give people with criminal records a fair chance at employment. North Carolina is just one of many states to enact Ban the Box legislation in recent years. So, what does that mean for background checks?
Ban the Box Under North Carolina Law
Under the new North Carolina legislation, public employers are prohibited from inquiring about criminal history on the initial application or before the initial job interview. Additionally, a State Agency cannot consider the following when making an employment decision:
- Expunged or pardoned convictions
- Charges or convictions unrelated to the employment opportunity
- Arrests that did not result in a conviction
- Charges that were dismissed or found not guilty
In addition to the 36 states that have adopted a Ban the Box law, many local jurisdictions have adopted their own policies. The following jurisdictions prohibit public sector employers from inquiring about criminal history during the application process:
- Buncombe County
- Cumberland County
- Forsyth County
- Mecklenburg County
Other jurisdictions have even more specific restrictions.
In Durham County, public sector employers may inquire into criminal history after a candidate is designated as “otherwise qualified” and has been recommended for hire.
New Bern, NC
Public sector employers can inquire about criminal history after making a conditional offer of employment. Additionally, the city’s statutes emphasize that the inquiry must have a direct necessity for the public’s health, safety, or welfare.
Spring Lake, NC
Public sector employers in the town of Spring Lake can inquire into a candidate’s criminal history after the initial interview.
Wake County, NC
Wake County’s public sector employers must wait until an applicant has been recommended for hire to conduct a criminal background check.
Why Ban the Box?
Ban the Box initiatives are intended to provide people with criminal records a fair chance at employment. By removing the criminal history question from job applications, employers can get to know applicants before making decisions about their hiring. This can open the door to employment opportunities for those with criminal records and help to reduce recidivism.
North Carolina has an estimated 1.7 million citizens with a criminal record. Lawmakers hope that banning the box will reduce discrimination and improve the safety of communities overall. Access to employment is a proven factor in preventing re-offending and helps those released from imprisonment successfully reenter society.
How does North Carolina’s Ban the Box Law Effect Background Checks?
Whenever an employer conducts a background check, they must abide by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This law protects the information in all consumer reports (including background checks) from misuse. Companies are responsible for maintaining accurate records, protecting consumer privacy, and providing invididuals access to their data. Violating the Ban the Box law locally can have implications under the FCRA, including fines for infractions. If you believe you were subject to an application or interview process that did not follow these guidelines, you should speak to an attorney to determine your options.
Representation for Unfair Background Checks
For FCRA or Ban the Box violations in North Carolina, reach out to us as soon as possible. To speak with us, call our office at (919) 526-0450 or submit an email request through our contact page. Our intake team will assess your information and evaluate your claim. If we are able to assist you, they will connect you with an attorney.