Council passes bill that limits background checks until conditional job offer

Montgomery County employers will be limited on what information they can seek about an applicant’s criminal history.

Under a bill the County Council unanimously approved, employers can no longer check an applicant’s background until a conditional job offer is made. They are also prohibited from asking about certain crimes.

The legislation expands the county’s current “Ban the Box” law, which prevents employers with at least 15 full-time employees from doing criminal background checks of applicants and asking about criminal or arrest history before a first interview.

The expansion changes the law to include employers with at least one full-time or part-time employee and limits an employer’s ability to ask about specific criminal or arrest history before a conditional job offer.

Employers will not be able to check applicants’ arrest records that didn’t result in convictions, or any arrest or convictions records for trespassing and disturbing the peace.

The expanded law also prohibits inquiries into any records of misdemeanor convictions if at least three years have passed since conviction and incarceration ended. Confidential and expunged records are also covered.

County Executive Marc Elrich must create regulations to inform prospective employees and employers of their rights and responsibilities under the expanded law.

Although the bill passed unanimously, the council was split on one detail — whether the first misdemeanor conviction of second-degree assault should be included in the list of crimes that an employer can’t ask about or consider. FULL ARTICLE

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