California Bill to Prohibit Cities and Counties from Asking about Criminal History on Job Applications Fails

A California Assembly bill – AB 1831 – that would have prohibited cities and counties in the state from requesting criminal background information on initial job applications failed when the Senate Governance and Finance Committee decided not to extend similar restrictions on criminal record inquiries California adopted for state employees in 2010 to local governments, the Sacramento Bee reports. Introduced by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento) to help job seekers with a criminal history compete fairly with other applicants, AB 1831 would have allowed local governments to run background checks after finding the job applicant initially qualified. The text of the bill, which Dickinson said he will try to re-introduce next year, is available here: California Assembly Bill 1831.

As reported previously in the ESR News blog ‘California Assembly Bill 1831 would Prohibit Local Governments from Asking about Criminal History on Initial Job Applications,’ AB 1831 would have prohibited 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.” All cities and counties, including charter cities and counties, would have been subjected to the provisions of the bill.

Several cities and counties across the U.S. have already 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) lists several cities and counties as having already banned the box including Alameda County, Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco in California. The Resource Guide from NELP is available here: Ban the Box: Major U.S. Cities and Counties Adopt Fair Hiring Policies to Remove Unfair Barriers to Employment of People with Criminal Records.

The use of criminal background checks by employers has been in the news lately. On April 25, 2012, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – the agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination – voted 4-1 to approve updated Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The updated EEOC guidance “builds on longstanding court decisions and guidance documents that the EEOC issued over 20 years ago” and “focuses on employment discrimination based on race and national origin.” The updated EEOC enforcement guidance, which also includes recommended best practices for employers, is available here: Updated EEOC Enforcement Guidance on Arrest and Conviction Records

To help employers better understand how to use of criminal records, Attorney Lester Rosen, Founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources (ESR) and one of the premiere experts in the field of background checks, presented a webinar on June 14 titled ‘Practical Steps Employers Can Take to Comply with the New EEOC Criminal Guidance’ to provide participants a pathway to compliance with the new EEOC guidance. A recorded version of the complimentary webinar is available at: (NOTE: For clients of Employment Screening Resources (ESR) who would like a recording of the special ESR ‘Client Only’ EEOC Guidance webinar held on May 31, 2012 or additional information about the EEOC Guidance, please contact ESR Customer Service at 415.898.0044 or

For more information about criminal 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, call 415.898.0044, or email


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 a small percentage of 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, call 415.898.0044 or 888.999.4474 (Toll Free), or email

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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