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Asking Job Applicants About Their Criminal Background

On many job application forms employers ask prospective employees about their criminal histories. Often the prospective employees are required to check a box – either “yes” or “no.” While this type of question has traditionally been allowed (and still is allowed in Texas), employers should be aware of a nationwide trend of banning this question from initial job application forms.

Several states, including California and Illinois, do not allow this question on their public employment job application forms. Other states have taken this a step further and banned this question from private employment applications as well. These states include Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Rhode Island. In addition, many individual cities have taken steps to ban these types of questions on their job applications.

So far employers can still ask about criminal histories on Texas job applications. However, this is an area of the law that is constantly changing. Make sure to evaluate the position of each state in which you do business before using this type of question. Failure to do so could result in a finding of adverse employment practices and lead to the imposition of fines and penalties against your company.

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