Over the past few years, California has gradually limited the ability of employers to utilize criminal records and background checks in making employment decisions. The City of Los Angeles recently enacted new regulations which further restrict an employer’s ability to inquire into an applicant’s criminal history and prevent employment decisions based on a candidate’s criminal record.
As of July 1, 2017, Los Angeles employers with at least 10 employees are now prohibited from inquiring about criminal history during a job interview or in a job application. This means that employers are barred from running criminal background checks on candidates before they have been given an offer of employment.
Only after giving a conditional offer of employment, may an employer inquire into the applicant’s criminal record. If an employer discovers an applicant has a potentially disqualifying criminal record, it must assess how the candidate’s conviction would negatively impact his or her ability to perform job-related tasks. The employer must provide a written notification to the applicant and wait at least five business days before taking any action. During this time, the candidate has the ability to provide information to the employer contradicting the employer’s assessment. If the employer still decides that the conviction, etc. is disqualifying, the employer must provide the applicant with a second written notice and a copy of the reassessment to the applicant.
Employers failing to comply with these requirements could face fines, which increase in cost for each violation that occurs. A first violation will be $500, a second up to $1000, and a third could be as high as $2000.
Given these new regulations, Los Angeles employers should revise their applications to eliminate questions regarding an applicant’s criminal history and should review their employment policies to ensure that their practices are in compliance with city guidelines.
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