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:
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.