President Barack Obama’s plan to issue a “ban the box” Executive Order may not directly affect nonfederal government employers, but it continues a movement in both the public and private sectors against considering criminal history early in the hiring process. A White House fact sheet issued November 2, the same day Obama traveled to New Jersey to outline plans to help the formerly incarcerated, explains that the president is directing the federal Office of Personnel Management “to take action where it can by modifying its rules to delay inquiries into criminal history until later in the hiring process.”
The fact sheet says most federal agencies already have taken that step. It also notes that many states and cities have passed laws requiring employers to remove the job application section that asks if prospective employees have a criminal record. The fact sheet also notes that many private companies have decided on their own to delay asking about criminal history until later in the hiring process to make sure job seekers aren’t unnecessarily screened out before having a chance to explain their circumstances.