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Understanding California’s Ban-The-Box Law

Two words that can strike fear into the hearts of business owners are: Discrimination Lawsuit. Why? One reason is that many business owners have little or no insurance coverage to help pay the cost of a discrimination claim from an employee or customer.

Another concern is that the quantity and variety of discrimination claims keep growing. California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing, for example, handles between 10,000 and 20,000 discrimination claims per year. In addition, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission handles between 80,000 and 100,000 discrimination claims per year.

One of the latest issues in employment law involves the hiring of people with a criminal record.

People With Criminal Records: To Hire or not to Hire?

On one hand, a good-paying job is one of the best ways to prevent criminal recidivism. So, making it easier for rehabilitated criminals to get a good job should be good for everyone.

On the other hand, employers may worry about being sued for negligent hiring. If a person with a prior criminal conviction is hired, and they later commit a crime in the course of their work, the employer could be sued on the grounds that they should have foreseen the risk.

Still, it is unfair for people to be denied good-paying jobs simply because of a crime committed many years ago that does not affect their current job performance and poses no risk to the safety of others. Therefore, a growing number of states, including California, have passed “ban-the-box” laws.

Ban-the-Box Laws Help People Get Further Into the Hiring Process Ban-the-box laws aim to give people with criminal convictions a better chance of making it past the application-screening and interviewing stages of the hiring process.

California state law has, since 2013, prohibited public sector employers from inquiring into an applicant’s criminal history until the applicant has met all other qualifications for a job.

Effective January 2018, California’s ban-the-box law extends to all employers in California with five or more employees.

How to Comply With Ban-the-Box Laws in California Ban-the-box laws require employers to remove questions such as “Check yes or no: Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” from job application forms. In addition, employers must not ask questions about an applicant’s criminal history during the interviewing stage, focusing instead on determining whether the candidate is otherwise qualified for the position.

Employers can still conduct criminal background checks, but they generally must wait until after making an applicant a conditional job offer. If a job-relevant conviction history is then discovered, the job offer may be rescinded, subject to various requirements intended to ensure fairness. FULL ARTICLE

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