Oregon’s “Ban-the-Box” Statute


Oregon’s “Ban-the-Box” Statute

Attorney: Ryan Probstfeld

Oregon House Bill 3025 was signed into law on June 26, 2015 and Oregon became one of 23 states in the United States to enact “ban-the-box” laws restricting employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal background during the initial stages of the application process.  (“Ban-the-box” refers to the box on employment applications where an applicant indicates whether they have a criminal history.)   Effective January 1, 2016, covered Oregon employers are now prohibited from requiring an applicant:

  • To disclose a criminal conviction on an employment application;
  • To disclose, prior to an initial interview, a criminal conviction; or
  • If no interview is conducted, to disclose, prior to a conditional offer of employment, a criminal conviction.

The new “ban-the-box” law applies to all employers, unless the employer falls within one of the following exemptions:

  • Employers who are required by federal, state or local law to consider an applicant’s criminal history (e.g. pharmacists, bank employees, teachers);
  • Employers who are law enforcement agencies (e.g. police or district attorneys);
  • Employers in the criminal justice system (not defined by the new law); and
  • Employers seeking a non-employee volunteer.

Importantly, the new law does not prevent an employer from considering an employee’s criminal convictions when making the hiring decisions.  Oregon employers may still notify applicants that they will later be required to disclose convictions or that a criminal background check will be performed as part of the hiring process.

It is also important to understand that the new law does not provide an applicant with a private right of action against a covered employer.  Applicant must file administrative charges with and pursue remedies through the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries.