In this year end rush, it would be easy to overlook the state’s new “Clean Slate” law. But employers in Connecticut should get ready now to implement the changes that occur on January 1, 2023.
So what is the Clean Slate law?
It dates back to 2021 and can be found here at Public Act 21-32. At its core, the law will automatically erase the criminal records of people who have been released from prison and who have been crime free since then. Generally, individuals with misdemeanor records will be eligible after seven years and those with low-level felony records will be eligible after ten (with some exceptions such as family violence, and firearm charges).
This is important because Connecticut has long since had an “erased” criminal records statute that prohibits employers from asking about such records, something I talked in more detail about in this 2009 post.
Under the Clean Slate law, applicants with all of their convictions erased will be allowed to say that they do not have a criminal record. Moreover, applicants will be able to say that they haven’t been arrested either.
For those that like getting a bit more into the weeds, the specific changes relevant to employers first impact Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-51i. Effective January 1, 2023, the revised law will bar employers (now defined as anyone with 1 or more employees) from asking an employee or prospective employee to disclose any “erased criminal history record information”.
“Erased criminal history record information” is defined as
(A) criminal history record information that has been erased pursuant to section 54- 142a of the general statutes, as amended by this act, or section 54-76o of the general statutes, or any other provision of the general statutes or other operation of law; (B) information relating to persons granted youthful offender status pursuant to section 46b-146 of the general statutes; and (C) continuances of a criminal case that are more than thirteen months old
Thus employers will also be required to make a change to the employment application, under some circumstances. If the application asks any question concerning criminal history, the application will be required to include a notice, in clear and conspicuous language (think bold big letters) that:
(1) the applicant is not required to disclose the existence of any erased criminal history record information, (2) that erased criminal history record information are records pertaining to a finding of delinquency or that a child was a member of a family with
service needs, an adjudication as a youthful offender, a criminal charge that has been dismissed or nolled, a criminal charge for which the person has been found not guilty or a conviction for which the person received an absolute pardon or criminal records that are erased pursuant to statute or by other operation of law, and (3) that any person with erased criminal history record information shall be deemed to have never been arrested within the meaning of the general statutes with respect to the proceedings so erased and may so swear under oath.
Yes, that’s a pretty big disclaimer.
With a revision to this law, alleged violations will now be able to be brought to the CHRO or even to Superior Court directly.
The law also makes it a separate “discriminatory practice” for an employer to discriminate against an employee on the basis of that person’s erased criminal history record information”. This will allow individuals to file claims with the CHRO directly on such claims as well.
These are big changes to be sure. In the next post, I will talk about the steps that employers can take once they understand the new law.
One last note: headlines from this week suggested that the new law was being delayed. But that is a bit misleading. What is being delayed is that some of the erasures to criminal records are getting delayed until later in 2023. That does not delay the obligations of employers to abide by the law on January 1, 2023.