Columbia, SC Amends their Ban the Box Law

We had previously discussed a Ban the Box law in Columbia, South Carolina, that went into effect in August 2019.

As mentioned in our previous industry note, the Columbia law placed various restrictions and obligations on employers. Significantly, the original law defined an employer as “…the City, private employers, and government contractors; and any person regularly employing five or more persons; any person acting as an agent of an employer, directly or indirectly; or any person undertaking for compensation to procure employees or opportunities for employment.”

For some, this definition of an employer appeared to conflict with the purpose of the Columbia Ban the Box law, which stated that: “[t]he purpose of this article is to ensure that the hiring practices of the City of Columbia do not, and urge private employers and government contractors doing business with the City of Columbia, to not unfairly deny people with arrest and conviction records employment…”

This seeming discrepancy created some confusion among employers, specifically whether the Ban the Box restrictions and obligations were meant to impact private employers or only the City government.

In response to the confusion, the City recently amended the definition of an employer in their Ban the Box law.

The change to the law, which was approved unanimously after a second reading on December 3, 2019, now states:

Employer means the City of Columbia as a municipal corporation.”

The new definition no longer contains references to private employers, government contractors, persons employing five or more persons, agents of employers, or persons undertaking for compensation to procure employees or opportunities for employment. The history of the amendment, including a link to a downloadable copy of the change, can be found on the City’s website.

This definition changes who the Columbia, SC Ban the Box law restrictions and obligations impact. You may want to chat with your legal advisor about this change to determine how it might impact you.

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