California has joined many other states with a “Ban the Box” law aimed at increasing the chances of getting a job by about seven million California adults with arrests or convictions. Adults with criminal convictions and arrests frequently have trouble finding employment because of an arrest or conviction. Many experts believe being employed strengthens community ties, builds self-esteem, and reduces the re-offending.
The California Labor Code generally prohibits public or private employers from asking job applicants to reveal an arrest that did not result in a conviction.
In 2015, President Obama directed the federal government to “Ban the Box” and no longer ask job applicants questions about convictions in the initial job application. San Francisco and Los Angeles also have new laws to prevent employers from inquiring about convictions at the job application stage.
The California “Ban the Box” law would repeal (or reverse) the prohibition on state/local agencies from asking applicants to disclose their convictions. Instead, it could be illegal for an employer with at least five employees to include any questions about an applicant’s conviction history, or to inquire or consider the conviction history unless the applicant has already received a conditional job offer, as well as making it unlawful for the employer to consider, certain prior arrests and convictions when conducting a background check.
This new law provides that if an employer intends to reject an applicant based on their convictions, the employer may make an individualized assessment and consider whether the conviction history may have relationship with the specific duties of the job, and may provide the applicant written notification containing specified information of the decision. Obviously employers could be justified in rejecting applicants who are involved in sensitive industries such as handling cash or child care. This bill would also grant the job applicant 5 business days to respond to that notification before a final decision is made by the employer, and add an additional 5 business days to the response time if the job applicant provides written notification to the employer that he/she disputes the accuracy of the conviction history and is obtaining evidence to support their claim. The employer must then consider the information submitted by the applicant before a final decision is made. If the employer has made the final decision to still deny employment, the employer will be required to provide written notification to the job applicant. As with all new bills, however, there are circumstances to which the new law may not apply.
If you feel you have been discriminated against because of a prior conviction or arrest, you may want to consult with an attorney.
Sacramento, CA 95821