Countering a nationwide trend of “ban the box” ordinances that prohibit employers from asking about an individual’s criminal history at the initial application stage, Indiana has become the first state to ensure through legislation that employers can inquire into applicants’ criminal histories.  The legislation prohibits localities from implementing “ban the box” ordinances.  The measure has been met with protest from industry advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union.

In connection with the new legislation, however, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb issued an executive order “banning the box” for jobs within the executive branch.  Effective July 1, 2017, applications for employment in the executive branch may not contain inquiries into an applicant’s criminal history at the initial application stage, unless the conviction for a specific crime would disqualify an applicant for employment.  As such, the State of Indiana remains divided on the issue. 

At least 26 states have passed some measure of “ban the box” ordinances, along with scores of municipalities.  It remains to be seen whether Indiana’s most recent legislative action will lead the opposite trend.  Troutman Sanders will continue to monitor related legislative developments concerning employment background screening and employee hiring.