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Employment applications can ask about criminal convictions, not arrest history

In response to a recent member inquiry on the topic, MHCA reached out to employment law expert Elizabeth Olivier, Esq. of PretiFlaherty to ask for clarification on whether Maine employers can ask about criminal convictions or arrest history on an employment application. The member was aware of so-called “ban-the-box” efforts, which seek to remove the check box that asks if applicants have a criminal record. Although the Maine Legislature considered this type of legislation last year, and will be considering it again this year as it pertains to public employees, Maine has not yet passed a “ban-the-box” law.
 
In terms of arrest history, both the Maine Human Rights Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission take the position that inquiries about arrest records are not appropriate because of the disproportionate impact on racial minorities.
 
Therefore, according to Olivier, “while it is still permissible for Maine employers hiring Maine employees to ask questions about criminal convictions on a job application, they should not be asking questions about arrest history.”
 
Upon offer of employment contingent upon a clear background check, long term care facilities are mandated to use the Maine Background Check Center for screening. The Center provides a template employer packet that includes release materials for candidates to authorize release of information. This can be found at: DHHS/MBC/content/EmployerPacket.
 
Staff Contact:
Nadine Grosso
Vice President & Director of Communications
ngrosso@mehca.org