Thursday, December 15, 2016

Proposed Bill Would Prohibit "Ban the Box" Ordinances Applicable to Private Employers in Texas

Earlier this year, and riding what appeared to be a nationwide backlash wave, Austin passed a "ban the box" ordinance requiring qualifying private employers to conduct an individualized assessment of an applicant's criminal background record after a conditional offer of employment has been made.  For more information on Austin's new law, see my April 29, 2016 blog post.
 
This week, Representative Paul Workman (R-Austin) filed House Bill 577, which, if enacted, will amend Chapter 106 of the Texas Labor Code to prohibit a political subdivision of the state from adopting or enforcing any ordinance or other local regulation that prohibits, limits, or regulates a private employer's ability to request, consider, or take employment action based on the criminal history record information of an applicant or employee.  See the text of the HB 577 here: http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/85R/billtext/pdf/HB00577I.pdf#navpanes=0
 
In its current form, HB 577 would not prevent a political subdivision of the state from adopting or enforcing an ordinance or other local regulation relating to the access to or consideration of the criminal history record information of an individual in certain circumstances, such as when the individual is entering into a contract or other agreement with the political subdivision.
 
If enacted, HB 577 would void all local laws which ban the box, including Austin's ordinance, and would put Texas law at odds with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's current position on the consideration and use of criminal background checks in the hiring process.