New Ordinances Restrict the Use of Background Checks by Baltimore City, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County Employers

Posted by Edward Sharkey on Wed, 04/15/2015 - 04:00

We have frequently posted about the federal government’s aggressive actions against employers that use background checks in the hiring process. Now, businesses also need to worry about local laws that restrict the practice.

Such laws took effect in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties in January 2015. Both Counties’ ordinances prohibit the use of background checks until an initial interview has already been conducted. And, if an employer in either County intends to rescind a conditional offer of employment after a background check, the applicant is entitled to a copy of the results which specifies the disqualifying charge or conviction.

In Prince George’s County, an employer may rely on only those convictions which demonstrate unfitness for the desired position. The Montgomery County rule applies to private employers with 15 or more full-time employees while Prince George’s County’s applies to those with at least 25.

Baltimore City’s Fair Chance Ordinance, which has been in effect since last August, is the most restrictive of the local laws germane to Maryland employers. It covers private employers with as few as 10 full-time employees. And, it precludes the use of background checks unless (a) a conditional offer of employment has been made and (b) the position requires trust. An employer that violates Baltimore City’s ordinance is subject to criminal charges.

A summary of local laws applicable to employers in other jurisdictions is available here.

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