HR Management & Compliance

New Orleans ‘Ban the Box’ Ordinance Takes Effect March 1

New Orleans, Louisiana, is joining the ranks of cities and states “banning the box” from its job applications. The city’s new ordinance takes effect March 1 and prohibits the city and its contractors from asking job applicants about their criminal history on initial employment applications. The measure also mandates that criminal background checks can be conducted only after an applicant has been given an initial interview.

The new ordinance does not affect private-sector companies that don’t do business with the city.

The goal of banning job applications that ask applicants to check a box indicating a criminal record is to give individuals with records a better chance to find employment, putting the focus on the candidate’s qualifications without the stigma of a criminal record. The delay in asking about criminal records until after the application phase is intended to offer applicants a chance to be interviewed and put their best foot forward before a criminal record is considered.

Employers that do business or plan to do business with the city of New Orleans need to make sure their employment applications and procedures for conducting background checks comply with the ordinance. Under the law, those employers can’t require applicants to list their criminal history on the initial job application, and they must conduct at least one interview before inquiring about criminal records. Not complying with the law means the city can cancel its contract.

For more information on the New Orleans ordinance, see the January issue of Louisiana Employment Law Letter.

Maggie Spell is a partner at Jones Walker LLP in New Orleans, Louisiana. She can be reached at mspell@joneswalker.com.