San Francisco Enacts Ban the Box Law Limiting Criminal Background Checks by Private Employers

On February 17, 2014, San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee signed ‘Ban the Box’ legislation – the Fair Chance Ordinance – that requires private employers in the city with 20 or more employees to limit the use of criminal background checks when hiring, according to a report. The law takes effect 30 days after signing and is operative in 180 days. The report is at reports that under the Fair Chance Ordinance employers “are barred from asking or conducting a background check until the entity determines that the individual’s qualifications meet the requirements for the position…” and that job applications must ‘Ban the Box’ and “can’t include inquiries as to convictions, including those judicially dismissed, exonerated or committed while a juvenile.” However, conviction history of job applicants “may be obtained after the first live interview.”

As for penalties, reports first violations during the initial year “will result in warnings and notices to correct” while second violations will result in a “$50 administrative penalty for each employee or applicant” that would increase to “$100 per employee or applicant violation.” The Fair Chance Ordinance – which also affects certain contractors and affordable housing providers – is at$File/San%20Fran%20Law%20Bckgrnd%20Checks.pdf.

As reported earlier on the ESR News Blog, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed the ‘Ban the Box’ legislation – a reference to the check box asking about criminal records on applications – that was introduced by Supervisors Jane Kim (District 6) and Malia Cohen (District 10) before Governor Lee signed the ordinance. The blog is at

‘Ban the Box’ was chosen as the number one trend for 2014 by Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) Founder and CEO Attorney Lester Rosen for the 7th Annual ‘ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends.’ Rosen, author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual,’ believes the movement is “quickly heading towards becoming a national standard and will be a hot issue for employers in 2014.” A list of top ten background check trends is at

About Employment Screening Resources® (ESR):

Founded by safe hiring expert Attorney Lester Rosen in the San Francisco, CA-area in 1997, Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority®’– provides accurate and actionable information that empowers employers to make informed hiring decisions for the benefit of their organizations, employees, and the public. CEO Rosen literally wrote the book on background checks with “The Safe Hiring Manual” and ESR is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), a distinction held by a small percent of screening firms. ESR provides Effortless Legal Compliance, Proven Expertise, Less Work/Lower Cost, Results You Can Trust, and Painless Migration. Employers choosing ESR know they have selected an agency meeting the highest industry standards. To learn more about ESR, visit, call toll free 888.999.4474, or email