Austin Ban the Box - April 11th, 2016

As of April 4, 2016, Austin Texas has “banned the box.” The Austin City Council passed the Fair Chance Hiring Ordinance, a new law that prevents employers from inquiring about an applicant’s background until after a conditional offer of employment has been made. Once an offer has been made, prior to taking adverse action, the employer must conduct an individualized assessment. When performing the assessment, the following factors must be considered:

  • The nature and gravity of any offenses in the individual’s criminal history
  • The length of time since the offense and completion of the sentence
  • The nature and duties of the job for which the individual has applied

After taking adverse action, the employer must inform the applicant of the reason in writing. The law also makes it an offense to publish any information that would state a criminal record is an automatic disqualifier.

The law is investigated/enforced by the Equal Employment/Fair Housing Office, with violations punishable by fines up to $500.00 for each position. Penalties will not be imposed for one year following the effective date of the ordinance.

A draft copy of the ordinance can be located here.