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"Ban the Box" Law Prohibits Criminal History Requests on Employment Applications

by William J. Pettersen on Nov. 03, 2018

Employment Criminal Civil & Human Rights  Discrimination 

Summary: Some Vermont employers and employees still unclear on effect of Vermont "Ban the Box" statute, which generally prohibits employers from asking about criminal history on the initial employment application.

It's been over a year since Vermont's "Ban the Box" statute went into effect, but the effects of the law remain unclear to some employers and employees. As of July 1, 2017, employers in Vermont are generally disallowed from asking criminal record information on an initial employment application pursuant to Vermont's "ban the box" statute, 21 V.S.A. § 495j. An employer may only ask this if federal or state law disqualifies employees with certain convictions from holding that particular position, and the questions on the application must only relate to those certain convictions.

That being said, an employer is still allowed to ask about a prospective employee’s criminal record at an interview or at another time after the employee has otherwise been found to be qualified for the job, just not on the initial application form. If an employer asks a prospective employee about his or her criminal record during an interview or at another time, the employee must be given a chance to explain the circumstances and any postconviction rehabilitation.

An employee may want to ask if the employer is required by law to screen for the types of convictions they are asking about, ask the employer for the opportunity to explain any criminal history that the employee discloses, and consult with an attorney concerning his or her legal options. Also, remember that expungements of criminal records are available in Vermont for certain offenses, which an attorney may also help you obtain.


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