Catholic University Law Review


Jurisdictions around the United States have adopted, and are considering adopting, fair chance laws, also known as “ban the box” laws, to improve access to employment opportunities for those with criminal histories. For years, individuals with criminal records – approximately one in four U.S. adults – have been disadvantaged when employers heavily rely upon criminal background checks during the hiring process. Now, with the proliferation of fair chance laws which require employers to avoid considering criminal history in hiring decisions, public and private employers are faced with implementation concerns as they adapt their hiring practices to ensure compliance with the evolving legal framework. Compliance with fair chance laws not only reduces the chance of costly litigation for employers, but also will have implications for crime recidivism rates by giving recently incarcerated and released individuals expanded access to employment opportunities and reducing their likelihood of reoffending. Still, employers must continue to grapple with deeply rooted biases so as to avoid using other demographic data as substitutes for criminal history data and policymakers must continue to monitor and evaluate the specific compliance challenges employers face in order the ensure that these laws live up to their name of being “fair.”