California Assembly Bill 1831 would Prohibit Local Governments from Asking about Criminal History on Initial Job Applications

A new piece of California legislature – Assembly Bill No. 1831 (AB 1831) – would prohibit local governments in the state “from inquiring into or considering the criminal history of an applicant or including any inquiry about criminal history on any initial employment application.” AB 1831 would only authorize a local government to consider the criminal history of a job applicant “after the applicant’s qualifications have been screened and the agency has determined the applicant meets the minimum employment requirements as stated in any notice issued for the position.” California Assembly Bill 1831 is available at: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/asm/ab_1801-1850/ab_1831_bill_20120222_introduced.pdf.

Introduced by Assembly Member Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento), AB 1831 is an act to add Section 50085.3 to the Government Code, relating to local government. All cities and counties, including charter cities and counties, would be subject to the provisions of the bill. If passed, Section 50085.3 would be added to the Government Code to read:

50085.3. (a) A local agency shall not inquire into or consider the criminal history of an applicant or include any inquiry about criminal history on any initial employment application. A local agency may consider an applicant’s criminal history after the applicant’s qualifications have been screened and the agency has determined the applicant meets the minimum employment requirements, as stated in any notice issued for the position. (b) This section shall not apply to a position for which a local agency is otherwise required by law to conduct a criminal history background check. (c) Nothing in this section shall be construed as requiring that a local agency conduct a criminal history background check.

As previously reported in the ESR News blog, several cities and counties across the U.S. have joined the “Ban the Box” movement and removed the box job applicants are asked to check next to the question on job applications that asks them about past criminal arrests and convictions. By removing this question, supporters claim job applicants can be sure that they will not be automatically excluded for consideration for a job because of their past mistakes and give those applicants with criminal pasts a fair shot at obtaining employment.

A July 2011 Resource Guide from the National Employment Law Project (NELP) – ‘Ban the Box: Major U.S. Cities and Counties Adopt Fair Hiring Policies to Remove Unfair Barriers to Employment of People with Criminal Records’ – lists the following cities and counties as having already banned the box: Alameda County, CA; Austin, TX; Baltimore, MD; Berkeley, CA; Boston, MA; Bridgeport, CT; Cambridge, MA; Chicago, IL; Cincinnati, OH; Detroit, MI; Hartford, CT; Jacksonville, FL; Kalamazoo, MI; Minneapolis, MN; Multnomah County, OR; New Haven, CT; Norwich, CT; Oakland, CA; Philadelphia, PA; Providence, RI; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; St. Paul, MN; Travis County, TX; Washington, DC; and Worcester, MA. The Resource Guide from NELP is available at: http://www.nelp.org/page/-/SCLP/2010/BantheBoxcurrent.pdf?nocdn=1.

Other cities and counties have since joined the “Ban the Box” movement and removed the question regarding arrests and convictions from job applications. The ESR News blog also reported that Massachusetts has already enacted a law that took effect November 4, 2010 that bans questions about criminal records of job applicants on job applications. An overhaul of the Massachusetts Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) prohibits employers in the state from asking about criminal offender record information – which includes criminal charges, arrests, and incarceration – on initial written job applications.

For more information about background checks, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority’ and a nationwide background screening provider accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) – at http://www.esrcheck.com/ or call 415.898.0044 or 888.999.4474.

Sources:
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/asm/ab_1801-1850/ab_1831_bill_20120222_introduced.pdf.
http://www.nelp.org/page/-/SCLP/2010/BantheBoxcurrent.pdf?nocdn=1.
http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/2012/01/10/criminal-background-checks-of-job-applicants-by-employers-coming-under-greater-scrutiny-by-eeoc/.
http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/2010/11/03/esr-news-alert-massachusetts-cori-reform-law-prohibits-employers-from-asking-about-criminal-convictions-on-initial-job-applications-effective-november-4-2010/.

About Employment Screening Resources (ESR):
Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – ‘The Background Check AuthoritySM – provides accurate and actionable information, empowering employers to make informed safe hiring decisions for the benefit for our clients, their employees, and the public. ESR literally wrote the book on background screening with “The Safe Hiring Manual” by Founder and CEO Lester Rosen. ESR is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), a distinction held by less than two percent of all screening firms. By choosing an accredited screening firm like ESR, employers know they have selected an agency that meets the highest industry standards. For more information about Employment Screening Resources (ESR), visit http://www.esrcheck.com/ or call 415.898.0044 or 888.999.4474.

About ESR News:
The Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News blog – ESR News – provides employment screening information for employers, recruiters, and jobseekers on a variety of topics including credit reports, criminal records, data privacy, discrimination, E-Verify, jobs reports, legal updates, negligent hiring, workplace violence, and use of search engines and social network sites for background checks. For more information about ESR News or to send comments or questions, please email ESR News Editor Thomas Ahearn at tahearn@esrcheck.com.