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Ohio Background Check Laws

What are Ohio’s background check and ban-the-box laws?

As of June 1, 2015, the Ohio Department of Administrative Services banned the box from state employment applications by means of Administrative Policy HR-29, stating that hiring decisions should consider EEOC criteria in evaluating criminal backgrounds of applicants. On December 15, 2015, the Ohio governor signed HB 56 into law, instituting a statewide ban-the-box law in Ohio that applies to all public-sector employers in the state, to include cities and counties. Background checks can only be run after a conditional offer of employment has been made. If an adverse action is contemplated as a result of the background check, an individualized assessment must be conducted prior to any final adverse action. The Ohio Fair Hiring Act, which took effect on March 23, 2016, prohibits felony convictions from being used against certain public employees, unless the felony conviction occurs while the person is publicly employed.

In addition to the statewide law, the following Ohio cities and counties have enacted their own policies regarding ban-the-box and fair hiring practices:

Alliance, OH: Although there is no specific city ordinance that bans the box, the City of Alliance has had a city policy excluding criminal history inquiry questions from its job application since December 2014. Alliance only conducts background checks for public safety positions or positions of financial responsibility, and then only once final candidates have been selected. Consideration of past crimes is restricted to those types of crimes directly related to the position the applicant is seeking. If an adverse action is contemplated, the applicant is provided with the reasons for the decision and given a copy of the background check, upon request.

Akron, OH: On October 29, 2013, the Akron Civil Service Commission adopted policy changes that affected city jobs. One of the policy changes removed the requirement for applicants for non-public safety/sensitive positions to check the box regarding criminal history. Background checks are required prior to applicants being referred for an interview. If convictions are revealed, a candidate’s job suitability is determined by a committee that evaluates the conviction based on connection to the job. An applicant who is rejected for employment may appeal the decision.

Canton, OH: The Canton City Civil Service Commission has amended their civil service examination rules to allow for an EEOC-type individualized assessment of an applicant’s criminal history, and not preclude those possessing prior convictions from city employment, as long as the conviction is directly and substantially related to the position.

Cincinnati, OH:  In August 2010, a Fair Hiring Motion passed by the Cincinnati City Council took effect. The motion provided for the use of EEOC criteria in the individualized assessment of job applicants’ criminal backgrounds. Background checks are only to be performed after a conditional employment offer has been made. If an adverse action is taken, the applicant is given 10 business days to appeal the decision, and will be provided with a copy of the background check. Criminal history must be evaluated as it relates to a specific position, the age at the time of the conviction, and rehabilitation efforts.

Cleveland, OH:  On September 26, 2011 the City of Cleveland ban the box policy was announced, removing the box from city job applications and civil service test applications. Background checks will only be performed on those applicants who become finalists for the position.

Cuyahoga County, OH: In August 2012, the Cuyahoga County Council passed Cuyahoga County Ordinance No. 02012-0005 that banned the box on county job applications. Background checks will take place only after a conditional job offer has been made. EEOC criteria for conducting individualized assessments of criminal background history will be applied.

Dayton, OH: Although there is no specific policy, the City of Dayton has removed the question regarding criminal history from its job applications. Background checks are conducted only after the candidate list has been narrowed, but before passing the list to the hiring official. EEOC criteria are used in the individualized assessment of criminal history. Applicants have the right to appeal any adverse action, after receiving a written explanation of the decision.

Franklin County, OH: On June 19, 2012, Franklin County Resolution 45712 banned the box on public job applications. Background checks are conducted after a conditional offer of employment, using the EEOC criteria in an individualized assessment. Offenses must be directly related to the position in order to take an adverse action. The Sheriff’s Office is exempt from the provisions of the Resolution.

Hamilton County, OH: In March 2012, the County banned the box on its job applications. After a conditional employment offer, a background check is performed and evaluated using EEOC criteria in an individualized assessment, unless there are statutory provisions prohibiting the employment of people with specific types of convictions. In the case of adverse actions, the applicant is given an explanation and may request a copy of their background check.

Lucas County, OH: On October 29, 2013, Lucas County Commissioners banned the box on all job applications under their authority. Background checks are only conducted on final candidates for a given position.

Massillon, OH: On January 3, 2014 the Massillon Civil Service Commission banned the box on city job applications. Criminal history inquiries will be made during the interviews. Background checks will be performed and specific factors will be considered. No waiver or appeal process was outlined in the policy.

Newark, OH: The Newark City Council passed a resolution that banned the box from city employment applications.

Stark County, OH: In May 2013, Stark County Commissioners banned the box on their employment applications and removed language from their employee handbook that prohibited the hiring of any applicant with a felony conviction on the record.

Summit County, OH: In September 2012, Summit County banned the box on its job applications. Additionally, background checks are only required for certain security-sensitive positions, and are only conducted after the job interview. EEOC criteria are used in an individualized assessment if a conviction is revealed on the background check.

Warren, OH: On January 14, 2015 the Warren City Council passed a resolution supporting ban the box, and encouraging the mayor to submit an official policy for implementation. Although the policy has not yet been submitted, a review of the Warren County FM10.1, Application for Employment, 2016 update, has no box requesting criminal history. Background checks are only requested after an offer of conditional employment on certain positions.

Youngstown, OH: On March 19, 2014 the Youngstown City Council banned the box from city employment applications. Background checks are only performed after a conditional offer of employment is made.

Cities Include: Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron, Dayton, Parma, Canton, Youngstown, Lorain and more.

Note: This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult with your own legal counsel for advice related to your state/locality.

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