Arnold & Clifford LLP
Results. Experience. Success.
Award-winning Litigators

Can employers ask about criminal history on an application?

On Behalf of | Apr 22, 2020 | Firm News |

If you have a criminal conviction in your past, it can make applying for jobs a scary situation. Seeing the box that asks about your convictions can make you feel like it isn’t worth it to even apply for the job. Unfortunately, it seems that every employer asks about criminal history on job applications. However, Ohio does have a law making this illegal for some employers.

According to 13 ABC, the state passes a law prohibiting public employers from asking if a person has a criminal history on job applications. This law only applies to public employers, such as state agencies or local governments. Private employers can still ask the question of applicants.

The reasoning

The reason behind banning the box for public positions is that the state feels asking this question causes a disqualification of applicants who would actually qualify for the jobs. Since the state and other public entities have many job openings each year, it also widens the applicant pool and enables them to fill these positions easier.

It also helps applicants who have a conviction decades ago. For example, if you got into legal trouble when you were in your early 20s but you are now in your 40s, the state does not want that held against you. However, with previous disclosure requirements, you would have to say you had a conviction and a hiring manager might overlook your application due to it.


While public employers cannot ask on the job application about your criminal history, they can ask once you start to move through the hiring process. They also can do background checks. Some positions will not allow someone with a criminal history to hold them regardless of the circumstances because of state law.