Federal government contractors will need to be aware of the Fair Chance Act, a recently enacted statute that is scheduled to go into effect on December 20, 2021. The Act is a “ban-the-box” law that prohibits covered employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history in the early stages of the hiring process. The Act prohibits the federal government and federal contractors from requesting criminal history information until job applicant is made a conditional offer of employment.
The purpose of the law is to give individuals with prior criminal convictions a better opportunity at obtaining employment by deferring inquiry into their criminal history.
The Act implements a progressive disciplinary policy for violators of its prohibitions. A federal contractor’s first violation will result in a warning. Any subsequent violations could result in the suspension of payments owed under the relevant government contract. Likewise, an individual making a hiring decision for a federal agency who violates the Act will receive a warning that is filed in the employee’s official personnel record file. Subsequent violations could lead to suspensions and civil penalties.