Portland Passes Tough “Ban the Box” Ordinance

Posted December 24, 2015 by Mary McGinley

Some cities in the country have considered what’s called a “ban the box” ordinance. The purpose of these bans is to remove the box on employment applications that ask about a person’s prior criminal record. By doing this, proponents say, it levels the playing field for people who are trying to become functional members of society after leaving prison.

Oregon has such a measure, which will take effect in just a few days, but Portland has gone one step further. They have made it illegal for employers for asking about an interviewee’s conviction history during job interviews until after a conditional job offer is made, subject to a background check. If the employer retracts the job offer, they must offer a written explanation why and why the criminal offense relates to the job duties or business necessities.

Part of the reason for the additional restrictions is that the state law doesn’t disallow employers from asking about conviction histories in job interviews. In fact, much of the language comes from the original version of the measure passed by the Oregon legislature before it was watered down.

The Portland ordinance will apply to private-sector employers with more than five employees. Portland’s new law goes into effect on July 1st, 2016. In the interim, Portland is drafting regulations to help explain the new law and will do outreach so employers will know about it.

Changes in employment law can come fast. Do you have time to keep up with it and still manage your business? Let EinsteinHR help you with your employment and payroll necessities. To learn more about our services, contact our offices.