On 7/1/17, Indiana enacted Senate Enrolled Act 312, which prohibits the state and municipalities from enacting laws or ordinances that restrict employers from asking job applicants about their criminal histories.
Indiana is the first state in the nation to pass such a law. In fact, for the past decade, in many states and municipalities across the nation, “Ban the Box” laws prohibiting employers from asking job applicants regarding their criminal histories on job applications have become increasingly prevalent in an effort to help ex-offenders re-enter society and stay out of the criminal justice system. This new law will effectively extinguish Indianapolis’ 2014 “Ban the Box” ordinance.
Despite Indiana Governor, Eric Holcomb, signing this new law into effect on 7/1/17, just one day before, on 6/30/17, he issued an executive order prohibiting state employers from asking about criminal history applications in order to give rehabilitated criminals a chance to apply for state jobs without disclosing prior illegal acts.
Practice Tips: Private Indiana employers may ask job applicants about their criminal histories but should carefully consider potential implications before doing so. First, employers who operate in Indiana and states or municipalities that have “Ban the Box” laws that wish to ask Indiana job applicants regarding their criminal histories should use different job applications in states and localities that have “Ban the Box” laws. Second, in deciding whether to ask job applicants about their criminal histories, Indiana employers should evaluate any disparate impact this may have as various studies have shown that this may result in racial discrimination, particularly against African Americans, which can present exposure for race discrimination claims.