Effective August 13, 2014, certain employers in the City of Baltimore will be prohibited from inquiring about an applicant's criminal history prior to extending a conditional offer of employment. The so-called "ban the box" ordinance requires covered employers to remove questions about criminal charges or accusations from employment applications and to refrain from asking about an applicant's criminal history in an interview or at any other time prior to making a conditional offer of employment.
The ordinance, which amends Article 11 of the Baltimore City Code, applies to applicants for employment in the City of Baltimore by an employer that employs 10 or more full-time equivalent employees in the City of Baltimore. Employment is defined to include unpaid vocational or educational training. There is an important exception for "any facility or employer that provides programs, services, or direct care to minors or vulnerable adults."
Alleged violations of the ordinance are investigated by the Baltimore Community Relations Commission. The ordinance indicates that relief may include back pay, reinstatement, compensatory damages, and attorney fees. Retaliation is expressly prohibited. Violation of the ordinance is a misdemeanor that subjects the violator to a fine of not more than $500, imprisonment for up to 90 days, or both, for each offense.
Covered employers in Baltimore City should review their recruitment and hiring practices in light of this new ordinance. Please contact Kathy Hoskins, Steve Metzger, or another member of the firm's Employment Law Group if you need assistance in complying with this new ordinance.
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