Oregon Enacts Ban the Box Law for Private and Public Employers

July 6, 2015 | Bryan Barajas

bantheboxOn June 25, 2015, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed into law House Bill 3025, which will prohibit both private and public employers from asking questions about criminal history on job applications or at any other point in the hiring process before the initial interview.  The law becomes effective on January 1, 2016.

Sen. Chip Shields, who founded the Northeast Portland employment and counseling agency Better People, said the legislation is an important step to reduce recidivism for those with a criminal record.

“When a person who has criminal record can’t gain access to employment, they have to rely on their family or the state in order to survive, and all too often they resort back to crime,” Shields says.

The amended bill is a compromise that removes the criminal history question from job applications, but allows employers to consider the applicant history in their hiring decisions.

It also includes exemptions for employers who are subject to federal, state or local laws that require consideration of applicant’s criminal history. These employers include law enforcement agencies, criminal justice system employees and employers who are seeking nonemployee volunteers.

Another change to the bill was the enforcement of the law. Originally, applicants who had been rejected on the basis of their criminal history could file a civil action against potential employers. In the amended bill, the Bureau of Labor and Industries is charged with enforcing the law.

It is recommended that Oregon employers review their hiring process to ensure compliance with the new law and revise their job applications and documents, as well their guidelines for background screening.

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