TN Prohibits Local Government from Requesting Applicants about their Criminal Histories

On March 17, 2016, the state of Tennessee passed its own version of Ban the Box Law. Under the enacted bill (TN S 2103), which became effective April 12, 2016, public employers are prohibited from asking job applicants about their criminal history during the initial employment hiring process. Employers may ask questions or request information regarding criminal history only after the initial employment process. When considering an applicant with a conviction, certain factors must be considered first. For example, employers should consider whether the criminal history has any bearing on the applicant’s ability to perform the job’s duties, and the seriousness of each offense, among other factors. Like other ban the box laws across the nation, job applicants will have an opportunity to explain their criminal history. Additionally, the law only covers job positions that do not require background checks.

Employers covered by the new law must start reviewing their employment policies and job applications. Staying compliant is a condition of doing business within the jurisdictional boundaries of the local government or contracting with the local government.

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