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March 03, 2021

Reps. Trone, Waters Introduce Historic Legislation to ‘Ban the Box’ on Employment Applications Nationwide Ahead of House Vote on Police Reform


Contact: Hannah Muldavin,

Reps. Trone, Waters Introduce Historic Legislation to ‘Ban the Box’ on Employment Applications Nationwide Ahead of House Vote on Police Reform

WASHINGTON — Ahead of the House of Representatives’ historic vote on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, Congressman David Trone (MD-06) and Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43) introduced the Workforce Justice Act, which would encourage states to ‘ban the box’ on employment applications nationwide and give justice-impacted individuals a greater chance of gaining employment.

The duo introduced the Workforce Justice Act in the 116th Congress in an historic effort to reform a portion of the criminal justice system that affects over 70 million people who have an arrest or conviction record. Before he came to Congress, Congressman Trone ‘banned the box’ at his private company, hiring over 500 returning citizens.

“Right now, far too many justice-impacted individuals, primarily people of color, aren’t being given a fair shot at employment because of their criminal history,” said Congressman David Trone (MD-06). “When my company banned the box and hired 500 returning citizens, we saw a higher retention rate and more dependable employees. Banning the box isn’t just good for business, it’s just the right thing to do and brings us one step closer to a more just society.”

“For previously incarcerated men and women who are doing their part to reintegrate into society, the job application process is often stressful and debilitating due to the rate at which they are denied consideration for employment because of the fact that they have served time,” said Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43). “This legislation to ban the box would take critical steps forward to ensure that the over 70 million Americans who have an arrest or conviction record are not left behind. By prohibiting private employers from asking about the criminal history of a job applicant prior to the extension of a conditional offer of employment, like my state of California has already done, job applicants with a criminal history will be evaluated based on their qualifications alone and have a fair shot at rebuilding and reclaiming their lives.”

What is ‘ban the box’?

Currently, private-sector job applicants must check off a box that discloses their criminal history when applying for a job. The presence of this “checked-box” that indicates an arrest or conviction record significantly reduces the likelihood of callbacks and job offers. Because of this, formerly incarcerated individuals face an astronomically high unemployment rate, putting them at risk for recidivism.

Currently 36 states, the District of Columbia, and over 150 cities and counties have adopted a ‘ban the box’ policy. Fourteen states and twenty cities and counties, including Maryland and California, have extended these policies to private employment. Congressman Trone wrote about his support for Maryland’s ‘ban the box’ effort in 2019.

In 2019, Congressman Elijah Cummings’ Fair Chance Act was passed and signed into law, which ‘banned the box’ for federal agencies and contractors.

The Workforce Justice Act

The Workforce Justice Act would encourage states to ‘ban the box’ on all job applications for public and private companies, giving justice-impacted individuals a greater chance for employment. The legislation gives states three years to implement this policy in order to remain eligible for critical criminal justice funding for state and local governments.

You can read more about the legislation here.
You can read the entire bill text here.

Congressman David Trone was elected to the House of Representatives in November 2018 to serve the 6th District of Maryland, which includes all or part of Montgomery, Frederick, Washington, Allegany, and Garrett Counties. Trone serves on the Appropriations, Veterans’ Affairs, and Joint Economic Committees in the 117th Congress and previously served on the Education and Labor and Foreign Affairs Committees. In Congress, Trone is fighting to make progress on issues that matter to Marylanders, including the opioid epidemic, criminal justice reform, and funding for medical research.