“Ban the Box” Now the Law of New Mexico

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“Ban the Box” Now the Law of New Mexico

Quentin Smith

By: Quentin Smith

Last month, New Mexico officially joined the “Ban the Box” movement. On April 3, Governor Lujan-Grisham signed Senate Bill 96 (Conviction Info on Job Applications), which prohibits employers from asking on an initial employment application if the applicant has a criminal record. The purpose of the law is to give applicants an equal opportunity to make a good first impression in an interview without first being automatically denied based on their criminal record. The “Ban the Box” movement has been gaining traction nationally with approximately 34 states and 150 cities adopting similar policies.

The key provisions of New Mexico’s “Ban the Box” law are:

  • Private employers are banned from asking about an applicant’s history of arrest or conviction on the employment application.
  • The employer may take into consideration an applicant’s conviction after review of the initial application and upon discussing possible employment with the applicant.
  • Nothing shall prohibit an employer from notifying the public, in addition to applicants, that the law or employer’s policy could disqualify applicants with certain criminal histories.
  • A person who believes their rights under the “Ban the Box” law have been violated may seek relief under the Human Rights Act.

The primary goal of “Ban the Box” is to reduce costs stemming from recidivism by making it easier for ex-offenders to obtain and retain employment. Many employment applications ask applicants to disclose whether they have a criminal record by checking a “yes/no” box before the application is submitted. Employment applications, however, rarely provide the applicant an opportunity to fully clarify or explain the circumstances of their crime and rehabilitation. Additionally, statistics show that requiring applicants to disclose criminal records on employment applications unfairly disadvantages minorities.

“Ban the Box” aims to make it easier for applicants with criminal records to obtain and retain employment because employment is one of the primary factors in reducing recidivism. States and cities with similar hiring policies have seen an impressive increase in employment of people with criminal records. Additionally, certain employers, such as Target, have removed criminal history questions from their employment applications.

Effective June 14, 2019, employers in New Mexico must remove criminal history questions from their employment applications. Any inquiry of applicants regarding their criminal history must be moved from the application process to the interview stage.

 

If you have any questions regarding compliance with the new “Ban the Box” law, please do not hesitate to call or email me.