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Austin, Texas, Ban the Box Law

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The Basics

Key Takeaways

  • Employers must wait until after a conditional offer to inquire about criminal history.
  • Convictions can only result in disqualification is job-related.
  • Employers must send certain notices advising of the decision.
  • Employers are limited in language they can include in job postings.

Who does this effect?

Applies to employers that employ at least 15 individuals whose primary work location is in the City of Austin for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year.

What does the law provide?

  • Criminal history information can be sought after a conditional offer (expressly says it can be oral or written).
  • The ordinance prohibits an employer from taking adverse action against an applicant based on their criminal history unless the employer has a “good faith belief that the individual is unsuitable for the job based on an individualized assessment conducted by the employer.”
  • In conducting this assessment, employers must consider, at a minimum, the following factors: The nature and gravity of any offenses in the individual’s criminal history; The length of time since the offense and completion of the sentence; and The nature and duties of the job for which the individual has applied.

Are there any notice requirements?

Covered employers may not:

  • Publish/cause to be published statements that an individual’s criminal history automatically disqualifies them from the job.
  • Solicit/inquire about the criminal history of an applicant in a job application.
  • Refuse to consider an applicant who submits an application because the individual did not provide criminal history information before a conditional employment offer.

Where the adverse decision is based on criminal history, regardless of the source, an adverse action notice must inform the individual that the adverse decision was based on the individual’s criminal history.

Are there any exceptions

The law does not apply to a job for which a federal, state, or local law, or compliance with legally mandated insurance or bond requirement disqualifies an individual based on criminal history. Employers should consult with their to see if they are otherwise exempt from the law.