Remember “Ban the Box” and the fair chance employment bill from earlier in the session?
Well, it passed last night. Sort of.
An amendment to the original bill essentially wiped the prior version clean. Thus, whatever you think you knew about the measure you can put that aside.
What passed last night (House Bill 5237) was a very watered-down version of the measure. It moves on the Governor’s office for signature and will become effective January 1, 2017.
The key provision is as follows:
No employer shall inquire about a prospective employee’s prior arrests, criminal charges or convictions on an initial employment application, unless (1) the employer is required to do so by an applicable state or federal law, or (2) a security or fidelity bond or an equivalent bond is required for the position for which the prospective employee is seeking employment.
Any violation of this rule is subject to a complaint filed with the Labor Commissioner, but not a lawsuit.
I don’t expect that this will be the end of the issue however. The measure also creates a “fair chance employment task force to study issues” related to employment for individuals with a criminal history.
For now, employers need only amend their employment application to remove the box that asks about “prior arrests, criminal charges, or convictions.” But nothing prevents a followup form from being requested or prevents these issues from being discussed in the job interview itself.
As the CBIA noted, the revised version that passed is a “wise reworking” that also affirms that businesses may run background checks on candidates if state or federal law prohibits people with criminal backgrounds being hired for a job.
Employers ought to review their existing applications and update them to comply with this new state law by January 1, 2017 (assuming the Governor’s signature, as noted.)