Austin Takes Lead in Texas to ‘Ban the Box’

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With the Texas legislature in recess for all of 2016, to reconvene in 2017, nothing has come from the state in the form of new legislation after the huge splash on New Year’s Day when a plethora of 2015-session laws went into effect. Most notable among those, news-wise, was the state’s new open carry gun law, allowing licensed individuals to openly sport their weapons (with common-sense restrictions).

In the absense of state action, the City COuncil of Austin, the Texas capital, became the first political entity in the state to “ban the box,” in other words, to forbid criminal background checks on employment applications. Like most such laws, the initiative allows for such checks once an offer of employment has been made.

The ordinance applies to any “person, company, corporation, firm, labor organization, or association that employs at least fifteen individuals whose primary work location is in the City for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year.”   It also applies to “an agency acting on behalf of an employer.”

The law has been in effect since spring, but the council granted employers a one-year window to adapt and will not assess penalties until that anniversary.

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