2020 Regular Session
To: Judiciary, Division B; Labor
By: Senator(s) Witherspoon, Jordan, Jackson (11th)
AN ACT TO CREATE THE "BAN-THE-BOX ACT"; TO ENACT DEFINITIONS; TO PROHIBIT CERTAIN PUBLIC EMPLOYERS FROM USING CRIMINAL HISTORY INFORMATION AS A PRELIMINARY BAR TO EMPLOYMENT; TO PROVIDE FOR JURISDICTION OVER COMPLAINTS FOR VIOLATION OF THE TERMS OF THIS ACT; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. (1) Short title. This act shall be known and may be cited as the "Ban-the-Box Act."
(2) Definitions. (a) "Public employer" means the State of Mississippi and any office, department, agency, division, bureau, commission, board, institution, hospital, college, university, airport authority or other instrumentality thereof.
(b) "Inquiry" means any direct or indirect conduct intended to gather information, using any mode of communication.
(c) "Applicant" means any person considered for, or who requests to be considered for, public employment or any current employee considered for, or who requests to be considered for, another position of public employment.
(d) "Criminal history" means records and data collected by criminal justice agencies consisting of identifiable descriptions and notations of arrests, detentions, indictments, information, or other formal charges, whether for a misdemeanor or a felony.
(e) "Background check" means the action taken to obtain a person's criminal history.
(2) Scope. (a) This act applies to public employers unless a public employer is required under state or federal law to obtain a criminal history as a preliminary qualification to be considered for public employment, including, but not limited to, any position that involves direct interaction with minors or the elderly.
(b) This act does not apply to:
(i) Private employers.
(ii) The practice of law; but nothing in this act shall be construed to preclude the Supreme Court, in its discretion, from adopting the policies set forth in this act.
(iii) The Performance, Evaluation and Expenditure Review Committee or any other public body when making inquiry about a particular person when the inquiry is related to the consideration of the person for appointment or confirmation to an office or position if the appointment is subject to the advice and consent of the Mississippi Senate.
(c) It is the intent of the Legislature to encourage similar hiring practices by private employers, local governments and other political subdivisions.
(3) Criminal history. (a) A public employer shall not ask an applicant to disclose, orally or in writing, information concerning the applicant's criminal record or history, including any inquiry on any employment application, until the applicant: (i) has signed the appropriate waiver authorizing release, (ii) is being considered for a specific position, and (iii) has received an interview.
(b) If a background check has been lawfully completed and a criminal history exists, the state will consider the following criteria before either proffering or declining to proffer an offer of employment:
(i) The nature and gravity of the offense;
(ii) The length of time that has elapsed since the offense occurred;
(iii) The age of the person at the time of the offense;
(iv) Whether the offense is reasonably related to the duties and responsibilities of the employment sought by the applicant;
(v) Any information pertaining to the degree of rehabilitation that may have taken place in the applicant.
(c) A record of arrest that did not result in conviction shall not be the basis for disqualification from public employment.
(d) The public employer must inform the applicant of the potential adverse employment decision based on the background check report before a final decision and must provide to the applicant an opportunity to demonstrate that the applicant was not correctly identified in the background check report or that the report is otherwise inaccurate.
(4) Remedies. Jurisdiction of a complaint or grievance alleging a violation of this act by a public employer is in the circuit court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2020.