Massachusetts Employers: Review Your Job Applications ASAP

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey recently took action to enforce Massachusetts’ “ban the box” law for the first (publicly known) time since the law’s enactment in 2010. The AG’s actions and related statements send a clear message to Massachusetts employers to immediately clean up their job applications.

In 2010, Massachusetts enacted a “ban the box” law, which prohibits most employers from asking job applicants about their criminal history on an initial employment application. The law is referred to as “ban the box” because it prohibits the practice of requiring job applicants to check a box on a job application if they have a criminal background.  Notably, the Legislature updated the “ban the box” law in April 2018 to include further restrictions on employers’ abilities to make criminal history inquiries which take effect on October 13, 2018.

Earlier this month, Attorney General Healey issued warnings to seventeen employers in Massachusetts and fined four national employers with multiple locations in Massachusetts for violating the “ban the box” law. According to a press release from the AG, her office reviewed the applications of a “sampling” of Boston and Cambridge area employers and found that these twenty-one employers violated the “ban the box” law by asking questions on their initial job applications about applicants’ criminal histories.

The Attorney General’s office stated that recent enforcement actions “are part of a larger ongoing effort” regarding the law. All Massachusetts employers are well-advised to review their job applications and take immediate steps to remove any questions that violate the “ban the box” law.

If you have any questions about the law, or would like your application reviewed for compliance, please contact any member of our Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Practice Group.

About Amanda Marie Baer

Amanda Marie Baer is a Partner in the firm's Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Group.  Amanda focuses her practice on representing employers in federal and state courts and before the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities. Amanda defends employers against claims concerning discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, interference, and accommodations.  Amanda also has experience in conducting workplace investigations into allegations of discrimination or harassment, and litigating to enforce (or defend claims regarding) employment, noncompetition/nonsolicitation, and severance agreements. Amanda's litigation experience makes her a valuable resource for employers seeking counsel on a myriad of day-to-day human resources issues and/or employment actions.
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