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Connecticut’s stated public policy encourages rehabilitating criminals who have served their time.  With this in mind, Connecticut employers should understand there are strict restrictions on how they investigate potential employees.  Since January 1, 2017, it has been illegal to inquire into an applicant’s criminal history at the onset of the hiring process, except in limited circumstances,according to Connecticut’s “An Act Concerning Fair Chance Employment,” Public Act No. 16-83, commonly known as the Ban the Box Law:

No employer shall inquire about a prospective employee’s prior arrests, criminal charges or convictions on an initial employment application, unless (1) the employer is required to do so by an applicable federal or state law, or (2) a security or fidelity bond or an equivalent bond is required for the position for which the prospective employee is seeking employment.

The Ban the Box Law applies to every employer, even those only one employee.  This law does not prevent an employer from inquiring about past criminal activities after the employer reviews the initial application.  The Law does prevent employers from asking an applicant about their criminal history on the initial job application.  The Ban the Box Law gives individuals with previous criminal convictions the opportunity to get their foot in the door when applying for employment by keeping the conviction information ou of the application form.  If a potential employer violates the Ban the Box Law, the applicant has no private cause of action.  The only recourse open to the individual is to file a complaint against the employer with the Connecticut Department of Labor.

The Ban the Box Law is not the only Connecticut statute regulating the use of criminal history in employee selection.  For example, a potential employer cannot require an applicant to disclose, or reject an applicant due to, a conviction that was erased, was provisionally pardoned, or for which the individual received a certificate of rehabilitation under Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 54-130a or 54-108f.

For a thorough review of any hiring procedures or employment applications, employers are recommended to contact and speak with an employment attorney such as the lawyers at Mitchell & Sheahan, P.C.