On January 30, 2020, the Maryland General Assembly overrode Governor Larry Hogan’s earlier veto of House Bill 994 – a statewide ban the box law.
HB 994, Labor and Employment – Criminal Record Screening Practices (Ban the Box), was passed by the General Assembly and then subsequently vetoed during the 2019 legislative session. The new statewide ban the box law will go into effect on February 29, 2020.
Employers with 15 or more full-time employees should review HB 994 and determine whether a change in hiring practices is needed. The law prohibits employers – at any time prior to the first in-person interview – from requiring an applicant to disclose whether they have a criminal record or have had any criminal accusations brought against them. During the first in-person interview employers may then require an applicant to disclose that information. There are no additional requirements imposed upon employers; however, employers are not allowed to retaliate against an individual who alleges a violation of this law.
Importantly, the statewide ban the box law does not preempt local legislation. That means employers impacted by the local ordinances in Baltimore, Prince George’s County and Montgomery County must still comply with those laws as well which are far more stringent than the new state standard.
The Commission of Labor and Industry is responsible for enforcement of HB 994. If the Commissioner determines an employer has violated this law, the Commissioner may issue an order compelling compliance and, for subsequent violations, may assess a civil penalty of up to $300 for each applicant with respect to whom the employer violated the law. Employers are encouraged to act now, including consulting with qualified legal counsel, to determine if any changes to their hiring and screening practices are needed.