What is “Ban the Box”?

By Daniella Cuellar

“Ban the Box” is the name of an international movement that aims to remove the check box that requires employers to ask questions related to the applicant’s criminal history from job applications.

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This movement is being undertaken by a handful of civil rights groups that are seeking to prevent public-sector employment discrimination. According to the National Employment Law Project, in the United States, over 37 states and over 150 cities and counties have adopted “ban the box” policies. This incentive allows applicants to have a fair chance at employment by removing the stigma of a conviction or arrest record in the beginning phases of the hiring process. 

Has Texas adopted this policy?

Texas has always been known to be a business friendly state, but can the same be said with employees? There have been efforts by several cities and counties that have pushed forth efforts at fair chance hiring practices for employers to evaluate a job candidate’s qualifications first before questions related to arrest history are asked from job applications.

Back in 2016, the Austin City Council enacted the state’s first ban the box ordinance.

Shortly thereafter, both Dallas County and San Antonio adopted their own version of these ordinances. More recently, the city of DeSoto and Harris County have followed suit, voting to enact the Fair Chance Policy. The initiative is also backed by Texas governor Greg Abbott.

Council Member Brandon Chase McGee

In our Rising Lonestars November 2022 Top Ten list, we recognized the leadership of Denton City Council member Brandon Chase McGee for his work in advocating for fair hiring practices. In an interview with our reporter Daniella Cuellar, Council member McGee emphasized the importance of the initiative by stating how “having a box on a job application encourages discrimination on the front side of the hiring process.” Leaders like Council member McGee are important for a future that allows for an equal opportunity for all Texans to have a chance at being considered for a job during an application process, as they advocate for the advancement of things like the “Ban the Box” initiative.

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