Rhode Island has enacted a law, typically known as "Ban the Box," that prohibits employment applications from containing questions about prior criminal convictions beginning Jan. 1, 2014. The state's Fair Employment Practices Act (FEPA), which the new law amends, already bans questions on applications concerning arrests or charges.

The law does provide exceptions for law enforcement agencies and in situations where federal or state regulations, or the requirement for issuing fidelity bonds for the open position, create a necessity for such inquiries.

The law, however, stops at the application step. Employers may still ask criminal background questions during the first interview and beyond.

Employers violating the statute will be subject to the same damages available under FEPA, including front and back pay, liquidated and punitive damages, and equitable relief.