Indiana Bans Cities From Banning the Box as More States Pursue Preemption Laws

Indiana Bans Cities From Banning the Box as More States Pursue Preemption Laws

At the same time that the Trump administration is looking to roll back multiple elements of federal employment regulation in the US, we have also seen a recent trend of states and cities taking the lead on introducing new regulations such as minimum wage laws, overtime rules, paid sick leave mandates, and bans on salary history inquiries. Employers, however, fear that a patchwork of regulations will make compliance a nightmare, and some states see the proliferation of local labor ordinances as a form of overreach by municipal governments.

These states, mostly governed by Republicans, have begun advancing legislation to curb the implementation of these local ordinances; Indiana, for example, recently passed a law barring local governments from enacting ban-the-box laws, which prohibit employers from inquiring about candidates’ criminal records early on in the application process, Roy Maurer reports at SHRM:

The legislation is meant to make it easier for employers that operate statewide from having to navigate different hiring processes and obligations throughout the state, said Sen. Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville, the author of the bill. It takes effect July 1. Over 150 state, county and city governments have enacted ban-the-box laws across the country, and new laws are being passed every year. Most are limited to public-sector hiring.

Indianapolis and Marion County passed its ban-the-box law in February 2014. The ordinance prohibits city or county agencies and vendors from inquiring into an applicant’s conviction history until after the first interview. If no interview is conducted, the employer is prohibited from making inquiries or gathering any information regarding the applicant’s criminal convictions. Other areas of the country are attempting to enact bills like S.B. 312.

Other states have also enacted similar “preemption bills” concerning other forms of regulation, such as local paid leave mandates and minimum wage laws. In a useful roundup of recent state and local legislative changes at TLNT, Ilyse Wolens Schuman and Michael J. Lotito of the employer-side law firm Littler Mendelson discuss the preemption trend in detail:

We continue to see progress with preemption bills, which seek to preclude localities from enacting ordinances that impose additional obligations on employers operating within their boundaries. South Carolina enacted a bill (SB 218) that prohibits any political subdivision from requiring employers to grant any employee benefit beyond wages, including “paid days off for holidays, paid sick leave, paid vacation leave, paid personal necessity leave, retirement benefits, and profit-sharing benefits.” A similarly broad bill is pending in Minnesota (HF 600). It expressly prevents localities from enacting or administering any sick leave, scheduling, or minimum wage laws.

A more narrowly-tailored preemption law took effect in Tennessee (SB 262), depriving local governments of the ability to adopt any regulation that imposes new scheduling requirements. Similarly, a Georgia law (HB 243) that would preempt any requirement that employers compensate employees for schedule changes has cleared both houses. A similar Missouri bill (HB 1048) has also gained ground. Meanwhile, a new Arkansas law (HB 1737) focuses on remedies and prohibits the duplication of awards for damages over the statutory limit allowed by any other state or federal law.