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Ban the Box Laws Take Effect in Virginia

Well over three-quarters of the U.S. population now live in jurisdictions covered by Ban the Box laws, which remove the criminal conviction question from job applications and delay related background checks until later in the hiring process. Also known as fair chance hiring laws, these mandates aim to prevent discrimination against candidates who have criminal records. In addition to well over 35 states, more than 150 cities and counties nationwide have adopted such policies. 

About Virginia Legal Codes

Federal agencies and contractors have been prohibited since 2019 from inquiring into job candidates’ criminal history until after a conditional job offer has been made. While no federal law prohibits private employers from asking for this information, the number of states, counties, and municipalities enacting fair chance legislation has grown exponentially in the past year. Virginia became the latest when Governor Ralph Northam signed bills for VA Codes 15.2-1505.3 and 19.2-389.3 into effect this May. The new Virginia state laws took effect on July 1. 

  • Code 15.2-1505.3 prohibits employers who are located in or employ residents of Virginia from requiring candidates to complete applications that ask about prior arrests, convictions, or criminal charges. Exceptions exist for positions in specific fields, including law enforcement, education, and health and safety. 
  • Code 19.2-389.3 bans employers and educational institutions from asking applicants about arrest, charges, or convictions for possession of marijuana. This also applies to applications for licenses, permit, and registrations.  

Employers are subject to criminal penalties if they willfully violate the new law. The result could be a charge of a Class 1 misdemeanor, which would carry fines and possible jail time. 

Recommendations for Employers

If Virginia’s new Ban the Box legislation applies to your company, keep these guidelines in mind: 

  • Make inquiries about job candidates’ criminal history only during or after an interview. 
  • Make sure all such questions are job-related and consistent with business necessity. 
  • Conduct criminal background checks only after a conditional offer of employment. 
  • Notify an applicant if they are denied employment due to their criminal background. 
  • Do not ask prospective or current employees about convictions for possession of marijuana. 
  • Do not include marijuana possession in any questions about an individual’s criminal history. 
  • Review and make any necessary revisions to your job application to ensure compliance with this and other Ban the Box laws. 

Work With the Background Screening Experts!

Like most laws, Ban the Box legislation can be subject to change at any time. Relieve the stress of keeping up with countless legal requirements and ensuring that your hiring process is fully compliant by partnering with Chane Solutions. We are a nationwide leader in background screening and drug testing services, and our team members offer decades of in-depth experience and industry knowledge. Contact us today to learn more. 

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