The Governor of Rhode Island recently signed a law to prohibit employers from asking job applicants about their criminal conviction history until the first interview. In “banning the box” for private employers, Rhode Island joins Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Minnesota, as well as the cities of Seattle, Washington; Buffalo, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Newark, New Jersey. In addition, many more jurisdictions have banned the box for public employers and public contractors, and still more – including the U.S. Congress – have some form of ban-the-box legislation pending. This alert explores the coverage, prohibitions, and penalties of the new Rhode Island law, which takes effect on January 1, 2014, and offers best practices for compliance.

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