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Ban the Box 2.0 in Montgomery County, Maryland

As the largest county in the state of Maryland, Montgomery County enacted its ban the box law years before the state did so. It took the state of Maryland until 2020 to pass a ban the box law. Not even a year later, Montgomery County took another step forward to update its initial law.

The First Rendition

Montgomery County’s early ban the box law was one of the first in the state of Maryland. Passed in 2014, the county’s first ban the box law:

  • Applied to non-governmental (except Montgomery County) employers in the county with 15 or more full-time employees, with certain exceptions.
  • Prohibited such employers from requiring a job applicant to disclose, on an employment application, the existence or details of their arrest or conviction record.
  • Prohibited such employers, before the completion of a job applicant’s first interview, from: 1) conducting a criminal background check on that applicant; 2) inquiring about that applicant’s arrest or conviction record or criminal history; or 3) requiring that applicant to disclose an arrest or conviction record or criminal history.
  • Required such employers to take certain actions before rescinding a conditional offer of employment made to an applicant based on an arrest or conviction record.

Montgomery County’s New Take

This year the county decided to expand its law. On November 20, 2020, the Montgomery County Council passed Bill 35-20. This bill amends the previous ban the box law.

So what updates were made? Key pieces include:

What employers the law applies to. Employers, as noted above, that employ 1 (one) or more employees are now included. And yes, private employers must comply.

When employers can inquire about criminal records etc. Such employers are now prohibited from doing the things outlined in bullet three above before the extension of a conditional offer of employment to the applicant.

Prohibited Inquiries. Such employers now cannot require an applicant to disclose, conduct a criminal record check to determine, otherwise inquire about or base a hiring or promotion decision on:

  • Arrests that did not result in convictions.
  • First convictions and related arrests for trespass or disturbance of the peace under Maryland law.
  • Misdemeanor convictions if three (3) years have passed since the date of conviction and the end date of incarceration for the conviction.
  • Certain confidential and expunged records per Maryland law.

The amendment further requires regulations to be issued necessary to inform applicants and applicable employers of their rights and responsibilities under Montgomery County’s ban the box law.

The amendment becomes effective on February 19, 2021.

Have questions about how the expansion of Montgomery County’s ban the box law impacts you? Speak with your legal counsel.

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