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Maryland Enacts Ban-the-Box Law: How Your Organization Can Ensure Compliance


If your business operates in Maryland, you need to be aware of SB 839, a law that took effect February 29, 2020. SB 839 prohibits employers with 15 or more full-time employees from asking job applicants about their criminal history prior to the first in-person interview. Specifically, the law precludes employers from asking applicants whether they have a criminal record or have been accused of a crime. As a result, employers may no longer ask applicants about their criminal history on a job application or during a phone interview.

SB 839 defines employment as “any work for pay and any form of vocational or educational training, with or without pay.” This includes “contractual, temporary, seasonal, or contingent work” and work assigned through a temporary or other employment agency.

There are exceptions to SB 839. For example, an employer may ask about an employee’s criminal history if the employer is required to or is authorized by another applicable federal or state law. Additionally, prohibition on seeking criminal history information early in the application stage does not apply to employers that provide programs, services, or direct care to minors or vulnerable adults.

The Commissioner of Labor and Industry is authorized to enforce SB 839. If an employer violates SB 839, the Commissioner will issue an order compelling compliance. The Commissioner may assess a civil penalty of up to $300.00 for each subsequent violation. FULL ARTICLE