Statewide Laws

Your state may have other laws that protect the rights of people with criminal histories.

To find out about your state’s laws, select the state where you are seeking employment from the drop-down menu below:

Alabama – Statewide Laws

 

Ban the Box

Alabama does not have a statewide Ban the Box law. State employment applications will ask you about a criminal history. There is no state law about how government employers should consider criminal convictions. However, state policy does require government agencies to consider whether an applicant's conviction directly relates to the professional license that they are applying for.






 

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California – Statewide Laws

In California, employers cannot ask job seekers or employees about arrests that did not lead to conviction or convictions that have been sealed or expunged.

Ban the Box:

As of January 1, 2018, California’s ban the box law applies to every employer who has more than five employees, except for law enforcement agencies. Under the law, employers cannot ask job seekers about their criminal history until the employer has given the job seeker a conditional offer of employment. After the employer has given a conditional job offer, the employer can ask the job seeker about his or her criminal history and can run a background check.

If the employer wants to revoke the job offer after reviewing the applicant’s criminal history, the employer must:

  1. Consider the nature and age of any conviction and whether it is related to the job duties;
  2. Notify the job seeker in writing that the job offer is going to be revoked, give the job seeker a copy of the background check, and give the job seeker at least 5 days to respond;
  3. Review any response provided by the job seeker; and
  4. Provide a final notice in writing if the employer decides not to hire the job seeker.

If an employer violates the law, you may file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).

There are four different ways to file a complaint with DFEH:

  1. File a complaint online at: California Department of Fair Employment and Housing
  2. Email the DFEH Intake Form to: contact.center@dfeh.ca.gov

    Use this DFEH Intake Form to submit to DFEH:

    DFEH Intake Form

    For the latest version of the DFEH Intake Form, click here: Department of Fair Employment and Housing Intake Form
  3. Mail the DFEH Intake Form above to:

    California Department of Fair Employment and Housing
    2218 Kausen Drive, Suite 100
    Elk Grove, CA 95758

  4. Visit your local DFEH office and file a complaint in person. You can find your local DFEH office here: California Department of Fair Employment and Housing Office Locations.
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Florida – Statewide Laws

A Florida state or local government agency cannot deny a license, permit, or a certification for employment to a person because he or she was convicted of a crime, unless the conviction was for a felony or first degree misdemeanor and the crime is directly related to the job. There are special rules, though, for drug convictions.

Florida law provides legal protection against future liability for employers who perform criminal record checks. Florida law presumes that an employer was not negligent in its hiring if the employer checks an applicant's criminal record and makes a reasonable decision to hire. Most employers will check your record.

Ban the Box

The State of Florida does not have a Ban the Box law.  State law allows employers to ask job applicants about felony or misdemeanor convictions and felony arrests that did not result in convictions. However, some Florida counties and cities have passed Ban the Box and Fair Chance laws. They have eliminated questions about a person's criminal record from job applications for most county and city government jobs.

 

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Georgia – Statewide Laws

Under Georgia law, you have a right to know if your criminal record affects employment and licensing decisions. 

If a potential employer or a licensing agency does a criminal record check on you and then uses that record to make a decision against you, you have certain rights under Georgia law. The employer or licensing agency must first tell you that they did a criminal history record check. They also must tell you about all the information used to make that decision. In addition, they must tell you the specific contents of the record and the affect the record had on their decision. Failure to do this is a misdemeanor offense under Georgia law.

Ban the Box

In 2015, the governor of Georgia, by executive order, made Georgia the first southern state to ban the box on state employment applications. Several Georgia counties and cities have passed ban the box laws, eliminating questions about a person's criminal record from job applications for most county and city government jobs. Georgia law allows private employers to ask job applicants about felony or misdemeanor convictions and arrests. Private employers may ask job applicants about their criminal records at any stage in the employment process.
 

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Illinois – Statewide Laws

An employer cannot ask you on a job application whether you’ve been arrested.  An employer can ask only whether you have been convicted of a crime. If your entire criminal record has been sealed or expunged, you can legally answer “no” to a question whether you have been convicted of a crime.

If you have convictions that are not eligible for sealing or are subject to a waiting period, then you must disclose those to an employer.

Under Illinois law, an employer cannot discriminate against you in any way based on a sealed or expunged record. If this happens, contact the Illinois Department of Human Rights to file a complaint.

Illinois Department of Human Rights
Phone: Chicago office (312) 814-6200/ Springfield office (217) 785-5100.

Ban the Box:

Illinois, the City of Chicago, and other municipalities in Illinois have passed Ban the Box laws. This means that employers cannot ask on a job application if the person applying has ever been convicted of a crime. But these laws don’t apply in all cases.

In all of Illinois except Chicago, Ban the Box applies to employers with 15 or more employees and employment agencies. So small employers can ask about convictions on job applications. Employers may not inquire into an applicant's criminal record until the applicant has been selected for an interview by the employer or until after a conditional offer of employment is made to the applicant.  But in Chicago, the law applies to any size employer.


Ban the Box laws do not apply to jobs that require an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) license.

Ban the Box laws do not apply to any job that requires a fidelity bond. A fidelity bond is a form of insurance that protects an employer from losses caused by dishonest employees.

If you think an employer has considered your criminal record in violation of the law, you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Labor online. The form is called Ban the Box Complaint Form.

Use this Ban The Box Complaint Form to submit to the Illinois Department of Labor online:


Ban the Box Complaint Form

For the latest version, Please visit the Illinois Department of Labor website here: Illinois Department of Labor

Please print this form or complete using a computer. If you have trouble editing this form on your computer, try using the Chrome web browser.

For a violation of the City of Chicago Ban the Box law, you can file a complaint with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations. They recommend that you call them first. Call during regular business hours, and ask to speak to the intake staff person on duty for an employment complaint. The commission’s number is: (312) 744-4111.

For more information about filing a discrimination complaint, visit: City of Chicago.

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Maryland – Statewide Laws

Maryland restores your right to vote and hold public office when you complete your sentence.  

In an effort to remove barriers to employment, Maryland law prohibits consumer reporting agencies from reporting convictions older than seven years for jobs that pay less than $20,000. To remove barriers to licensing, Maryland law prohibits licensing boards from denying a license based on a conviction unless (1) there is a direct relationship between the conviction and the license, and (2) granting the license would create an unreasonable risk to people or property. 

Ban the Box

Maryland state employers cannot ask job applicants about criminal history on job applications. In fact, they cannot ask until after the first interview. Some state employers are exempted from this law such as law enforcement agencies and those required by statute to consider the criminal histories of applicants.


 

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Michigan – Statewide Laws

An employer, employment agency, or labor organization cannot ask you about a misdemeanor arrest if you were not convicted. However, if your employer is thinking about firing you, they can consider your arrests when making their decision.

Occupational Licensing: Many jobs in Michigan require an occupational license. For example, there are state licenses for athletic trainers, emergency medical technicians, electricians, and beauticians. Licensing boards for each occupation determine whether someone is qualified to get a license. Many professions allow the licensing board to consider a person’s “lack of good moral character” when deciding to issue a license.

A licensing board cannot use a criminal conviction as proof of a lack of good moral character. The board may consider the conviction when deciding if someone has a good moral character.

If a licensing board will not give you a license because of a “lack of good moral character,” you can appeal the board’s decision by showing that:

  • You have the ability to, and are likely to, serve the public in a fair, honest, and open manner;
  • You are rehabilitated; or
  • The substance of your previous conviction is not reasonably related to the job that you want a license for.

A licensing board may not use the following records to decide whether you have “good moral character”:

  • records of an arrest not followed by a conviction;
  • records of a conviction that was reversed or vacated;
  • records of an arrest or conviction for a misdemeanor or a felony unrelated to whether you can serve the public in a fair, honest, and open manner; and
  • records of an arrest or conviction for a misdemeanor where punishment could not be incarceration in a jail or prison. (Mich. Comp. Laws § 338.43(1))

Each licensing board must write rules that describe what offenses or category of offenses the board believes show that an applicant is not likely to “serve the public as a licensee in a fair, honest, and open manner.”  Mich. Comp. Laws § 338.43(3)

If you are denied a license based on a lack of “good moral character," you are entitled to a statement of reasons, including a complete record of the evidence the board used to make its decision. You also have the right to an administrative rehearing if you have evidence that the licensing board did not consider and should have.  (§ 338.45)

If the board does not issue the license, you may ask the circuit court to review the record. If the court finds that the record does not show that you lack “good moral character,” the court must order the board to issue the license.
 

Ban the Box

Michigan state law allows employers to ask job applicants about felony or misdemeanor convictions and felony arrests that did not result in convictions. Some counties have eliminated questions about criminal history from job applications for most county government jobs.















 

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Missouri – Statewide Laws

Missouri automatically restores some of your civil rights when you complete your sentence. This includes your right to vote, to sit on a jury, and to hold public office, with certain exceptions:

  • The right to vote is automatically restored unless your crime was related to voting or elections.
  • The right to hold public office is automatically restored unless your crime involved dishonesty or misconduct while in office.
  • If your crime was a felony, your right to sit on a jury is not restored unless you receive a pardon.

Ban the Box

Missouri has a statewide Ban the Box policy. State employment and licensing applications will not ask you about your criminal record on initial job applications. State employers can ask about your criminal record later in the application process. Some state employers are exempt from this requirement.



 

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New Jersey – Statewide Laws

New Jersey automatically restores your right to vote when you complete your sentence, probation, or parole. For more information about the restoration of civil rights in New Jersey, visit the Collateral Consequences Resource Center’s Restoration of Rights Project website here: New Jersey - Restoration of Rights, Pardon, Expungement & Sealing.

Ban the Box:

Under "The Opportunity to Compete Act" (OTCA),  New Jersey legally requires most public and private employers with at least 15 employees to delay inquiries into an applicants criminal history until the employer has conducted the first interview. Online record searches are prohibited in the initial stages of the job application process. Employers cannot consider an applicant's expunged or pardoned convictions. There are significant financial penalties if an employer violates the law.

Employers may not inquire into a New Jersey applicant’s expunged criminal history.

 

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New York - Statewide Laws

New York State has laws to make sure you are not wrongfully discriminated against when seeking employment or licensure.

New York State Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec Law Section 296(16):

This law makes it illegal for public and private employers to ask you about sealed convictions or to refuse to hire or promote you because of a sealed record.

New York State Correction Law Article 23-A:

This law requires that employers and agencies perform an 8-step analysis before denying you a job or license based on your criminal record. This law applies if you:

  • Submitted an application for an occupational license or job with any public or private employer;
  • Were previously convicted of one or more criminal offenses in New York or in any other jurisdiction; and
  • Were convicted of one or more offenses prior to getting the license or job.

If you have a conviction history and apply for a job or an occupational license, the employer or agency must take into account the following factors when considering you for the job or license:

  1. New York State encourages the employment of people with criminal histories;
  2. The job-specific duties and responsibilities you need for the position;
  3. The impact that your criminal record has on your fitness or ability to perform the duties or responsibilities of the job;
  4. The amount of time that has passed since you were convicted of a criminal offense or offenses;
    • The employer must take into account how long it’s been since your last contact with the criminal justice system.
  5. Your age when the offense was committed;
  6. The seriousness of the offense(s);
  7. Whether or not you can provide someone who is willing to speak on your behalf and vouch for your rehabilitation or good conduct. The information provided should help the employer to understand who you are as a person now, rather than when you committed the offense.
    • Examples of this include: education or training, reference letters from community members and/or clergy, or letters from previous employers both pre-/post-conviction(s);
  8. The employer has the right to protect their property, and they can consider the impact that your employment has on the general welfare and safety of others when hiring.

Even with this law, there are some convictions that will disqualify you from some jobs or licenses.

Certificates of Relief from Civil Disabilities and Certificates of Good Conduct are proof of positive change for potential employers and agencies when applying for jobs or licenses.
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North Carolina – Statewide Laws

North Carolina automatically restores your civil rights when you complete your sentence. This includes your right to vote, sit on a jury, and hold public office. However, this does not include the restoration of firearm rights.

Ban the Box

North Carolina does not have a statewide Ban the Box law. This means employment applications for jobs with the state will ask you about your criminal record. Some counties and cities in North Carolina have adopted their own versions of the Ban the Box law.

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Ohio – Statewide Laws

In Ohio, public employers cannot ask job applicants about their conviction and arrest histories on initial job applications. They may ask about criminal history later in the hiring process, such as when offering a job to an applicant. This law applies to all public employers in Ohio.

Another law, the Ohio Fair Hiring Act, prohibits public employers from using felony convictions against certain types of public employees.  Unless the conviction occurs while the person is employed in civil service, it cannot be used to punish or end employment.

Ban the Box

Public employers cannot ask job applicants about their conviction or arrest histories on initial job applications. The law applies to all state, county, and city employers in Ohio. Some counties and cities in Ohio have adopted various versions of the Ban the Box laws that are more specific.


 

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Pennsylvania – Statewide Laws

Criminal History Records: The Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) must edit any arrests, indictments, nonconvictions, and "no proceedings pending" that are over three years old before releasing a record. This edit requirement is one reason why it can take several months to get a criminal history record from the PSP.

Licensing: An agency cannot deny a professional license solely based on a conviction. An agency can deny a license if the petitioner was convicted of a felony or misdemeanor that is related to the profession. The agency must tell the petitioner why it denied the license.

Employment: A state employer is prohibited from asking about a criminal history on a job application. This policy also limits the consideration of a criminal history during the hiring process. A state employer can only consider a criminal history if it relates to the applicant's suitability for the job. If the employer denies employment based on criminal history, it must tell the applicant in writing.

Early termination of probation: Pennsylvania offers an early end to probation. It allows you to say to employers that you are not serving a sentence and could make you eligible for expungement sooner. The early termination process takes about five to six months.

You are eligible for early termination if all of the following statements are true:

  • You have paid all your fines and costs;
  • You have completed all court-ordered classes and treatment; and
  • Your probation period is at least half over.

You are much more likely to get an early termination if you have the support of your parole agent. He or she can apply on your behalf or support your petition. 

Voting: The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania restores your right to vote unless you are currently incarcerated for a felony or you were convicted of an election-related offense within the last four years. Voting rights are automatically restored upon release from prison, and people on parole or probation can vote. If you have a criminal history, you should re-register to vote.

Ban the Box

Pennsylvania does not have a Ban the Box law, but it does have a hiring policy that prohibits a state employer from asking about a criminal history on job applications. The policy also limits how much consideration state employers can give to criminal history during the hiring process. Employers can consider an applicant's criminal history only if it relates to his or her suitability for the job. If the employer does not hire because of the applicant's criminal history, it must say so in writing.














 

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South Carolina – Statewide Laws

Ban the Box

South Carolina does not have a statewide Ban the Box law. State employment applications will ask you about your criminal record. Some counties and cities in South Carolina have adopted their own versions of the Ban the Box law.

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Texas – Statewide Laws

As of fall 2018, there are no statewide laws in Texas that protect people with criminal records from being asked about their criminal history on job applications.

There are Texas laws that protect you from false information on your criminal history record. If a governmental or private organization does not remove or correct information on a criminal record within a certain time after they are notified, they can be charged with a misdemeanor and fined.

Ban the Box

The state of Texas does not have a statewide Ban the Box law; however, some cities and counties have passed Ban the Box laws.

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Virginia – Statewide Laws

Virginia does not automatically restore your civil and political rights when you complete your sentence. You must ask the governor to restore your right to vote, sit on a jury, or hold public office. In 2019, the Governor and Secretary of the Commonwealth established a process to restore civil rights to returning citizens.

To request to have your rights restored or check the status of your civil rights, visit the Secretary of the Commonwealth Restoration of Rights website here: Restoration of Rights.

For more information on the Restoration of Rights process, contact the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth at (804) 692-0104.

Ban the Box

Virginia does not ask about criminal history on its state employment applications. State employment decisions cannot be based on an applicant's criminal history unless the history is directly related to the job. The employer must show that "business necessity" requires that the employer deny employment based on an applicant's criminal record.

Various counties and cities in Virginia have adopted their own versions of the Ban the Box law.

 

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