California’s Fair Chance Act: Ban the Box
California’s Fair Chance Act – Part 1: Ban the Box
Section 12952(a)(1) of the California Government Code’s chapter prohibiting discrimination contains what is known as the Ban the Box law. Named after the familiar yes/no style box found on many job application forms, this provision is perhaps one of the simplest of the multi-faceted Fair Chance Act.
California’s Fair Chance Act, Section 12952, of the Fair Employment and Housing Act, went into effect on January 1, 2018.
The law states that except as excluded,
“it is an unlawful employment practice for an employer with five or more employees to… include on any application for employment, before the employer makes a conditional offer of employment to the applicant, any question that seeks the disclosure of the applicant’s conviction history.”
This provision means that your printed or digital job application can no longer include a question about the applicant’s criminal background.
- Has your organization taken steps to ensure that you are in compliance?
- The act contains several different restrictions and obligations that employers should be aware of.
- This article discusses the ban the box component of the law and what employers can do to comply.
- This is 1 of 7 articles about California’s Fair Chance Act – Ban the Box
Why Ban the Box?
The ban the box movement was born out of a desire to allow applicants to be judged first on their qualifications rather than on their criminal record.
In the past, employers with ample candidates to choose from might quickly screen out anyone who checked “yes” when asked whether they had an arrest or conviction in their past. Nationwide, it is estimated that 70 million adults have records that include an arrest or conviction. This meant that millions of individuals were excluded from or discriminated against in the job market.
According to the text of Assembly Bill 1008, which when enacted became known as the Fair Chance Act, approximately seven million adults in California have criminal records with arrests or convictions.
To facilitate rehabilitation efforts and encourage those with criminal records to participate in society, movements such as Ban the Box and Fair Chance arose. Recounting some of the histories of the Ban the Box and Fair Chance movements, A.B. 1008 notes that federal agencies were ordered by President Obama to remove questions about conviction history from initial application procedures in 2015. The White House also enlisted the participation of over 300 private employers who signed a Fair Chance hiring pledge.
As the movement has continued, many states and municipalities have joined the cause. In total, 30 states and 150 local cities or counties now Ban the Box. While another 10 states and over 30 local governments, including California, have implemented more comprehensive Fair Chance laws.
Although employers may struggle with the balance between fairness and sound business practices, state and federal laws are increasingly deciding that an individual’s past should remain in the past.
Simple Steps to Take to Ensure Your Business is in Compliance
Failure to comply with the Fair Chance Act opens your organization to the full set of remedies under the Fair Employment and Housing Act as well as any other applicable laws or ordinances. These remedies may include civil action by the state or individuals, the payment of damages, and other penalties.
- Now is the time to make sure your paperwork complies with the law. If you are still using forms that include an arrest or conviction question, destroy them now. Accidentally using the wrong paperwork can be a costly mistake. In addition, review all of your digital assets. If you use online portals or applicant tracking systems (ATS), confirm that all questions about an applicant’s criminal background have been removed from your forms. And finally, verify that your recruiters and other partners are also complying with the new law.
- You should also contact your legal counsel to determine what other steps your organization should take to ensure compliance with all of the Fair Chance Act’s provisions.
- And, as always, iprospectcheck.com is your partner in hiring and compliance. If you have any questions about your employment practices just give us a call. We’re happy to share our knowledge with you.