Last month, Maryland officially “banned the box” and enacted legislation that prohibits employers from initially seeking job applicants’ criminal records. Maryland now joins the District of Columbia and 13 other states that mandate removing criminal history questions from job applications for private employers. Virginia has not joined these states and nothing similar has been passed at the federal level.

As of January 1, 2020, Maryland employers may not require an applicant to disclose whether he or she has a criminal record or has been the subject of criminal accusations at any time before the first in-person interview. However, an employer may require the applicant to disclose this information during the first in-person interview. Further, the employer is not prohibited from inquiring into an applicant’s criminal records or from taking other action that is required or authorized under state or federal law. An employer is prohibited from retaliating or discriminating against an applicant or employee who complains of a violation of the law. The State Labor Commissioner will investigate alleged violations of this law. If it is determined that an employer has violated the law, the Commissioner may assess a civil penalty of up to $300 for each applicant or employee.

This law applies only to employers with 15 or more full-time employees, including contractual, temporary, seasonal and contingent workers. The law does not apply to employers that provide services, programs, or direct care to minors or vulnerable adults.

Declan Leonard is a Managing Partner at Berenzweig Leonard, LLP and can be reached at [email protected]. Declan would like to thank Aleksey House, a 2L at George Washington University Law School, for her assistance on this article.