Many incorrectly assume that Maryland has banned doing criminal conviction searches in Maryland. This stems from wording in the Maryland Human Relations Commission Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedure.
It is incorrect to assume you, as an employer, are no longer allowed to make inquiries of prior criminal convictions. Maryland allows inquiries about convictions that bear a direct relationship to the job and have not been expunged or sealed by the courts. Consideration should be given to the nature of the conviction, recentness of the conviction and rehabilitation since the conviction occurred.
It is perfectly legal for an employer to do a criminal conviction search as long as the type of conviction reveals unacceptable past behavior that is related to the essential functions of the job.
The guidance, see below, does have wording about being prevented from doing a “general” conviction search.
You must have a job descriptions that lists how certain prior criminal convictions are directly related to the performance of the job. If someone has those types of criminal convictions, you are allowed to remove that person from the hiring process.
Many times, and for various reasons, a court will expunge an individual’s criminal conviction record. If a criminal record has been expunged, Maryland law prohibits employers from asking applicants about criminal charges that have been expunged.
Maryland Human Relations Commission’s Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedure
Arrests & Convictions
Lawful Inquiries/Requirements – Inquiries about convictions that bear a direct relationship to the job and have not been expunged or sealed by the courts. Consideration should be given to the nature, recentness and rehabilitation.
Unlawful Inquiries/Requirements – Inquiries about a candidate’s general arrest and conviction record.
Maryland’s Office of Fair Practices has issued guidance for employers, “Guidelines for Pre-Employment Inquiries Technical Assistance Guide,” cautions employers not to ask about an applicant’s arrest record or general conviction record. The guidance indicates that employers should ask only about convictions that bear a direct relationship to the job and have not been expunged or sealed. And, the guidance suggests that employers consider the nature of the crime, how recent it was, and any efforts the applicant has made at rehabilitation.