Survey Finds California Public Employers Ready to Ban the Box

Written By Thomas Ahearn

Ban the BoxA survey released by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) details compliance efforts by public employers in California to successfully put in place new job applications to comply with a Ban the Box law – Assembly Bill 218 (AB 218) – which took effect July 1, 2014. The Ban the Box law removes questions about convictions from state and local government job applications and postpones such inquiries until later in the hiring process. The survey titled ‘Implementation of California Ban the Box Legislation (AB 218)’ is available at http://www.nelp.org/page/-/SCLP/2014/NELP-California-AB-218-Ban-the-Box-Implementation-Survey-Memo.pdf?nocdn=1.

“When we first introduced the bill nearly two-and-a-half years ago, our goal was to advance a simple but powerful message—that everyone who works hard deserves a second chance to turn their lives around and give back to their communities. We are heartened to see that the state’s public sector employers have embraced fair-chance hiring and that they are now setting an example for the private sector to follow,” Assemblymember Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento), who introduced AB 218, stated in a press release available at http://www.nelp.org/page/-/Press%20Releases/2014/PR-California-AB218-Ban-the-Box-Implementation-July-1-2014.pdf?nocdn=1.

The NELP survey documented Ban the Box fair-chance hiring practices of the 10-largest cities and 10-largest counties across the state. These counties and cities include: Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, and Riverside counties in Southern California; Fresno, Bakersfield, and Sacramento in the Central Valley; and Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara counties and San Francisco in the Bay Area.

  • All of the 10-largest counties and 10-largest cities in the state removed the conviction-history question from their job applications and delayed the criminal background check until later in the hiring process.
  • Of the 10-largest counties, only Alameda, Santa Clara, and Riverside counties had a policy in place before AB 218 was signed into law. Of the 10-largest cities, only Oakland, San Diego, and San Francisco had a policy in place prior to AB 218.
  • Los Angeles County, San Diego County, Riverside County, Santa Clara County, and the cities of Anaheim, Fresno, Oakland, San Diego, and San Jose went beyond what is required by the AB 218, delaying the criminal-history inquiry until a conditional offer of employment.
  • San Francisco passed a local ordinance extending the policy to private sector employers as well. Los Angeles is considering a measure for employers doing business in the city. Richmond and Compton extend their fair-chance hiring policy to their private vendors.

In October 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 218 into law to reduce unnecessary barriers to employment for the one in four adult Californians with arrest or conviction records. AB 218 requires the state, counties, cities, and special districts to remove the conviction-history question from their job applications and wait to ask the question when the applicant at least meets “minimum employment qualifications.” Employers such as law enforcement and school districts and job positions subject to a criminal background check by occupational or licensing law are exempt. The complete text of AB 218 is available at http://openstates.org/ca/bills/20132014/AB218/.

Ban the Box Updates from Employment Screening Resources (ESR)

“The Ban the Box movement is quickly heading towards becoming a national standard,” says Attorney Lester Rosen, Founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources® (ESR). Rosen selected Ban the Box as the number one trend for the ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends for 2014 available at http://www.esrcheck.com/ESR-Top-Ten-Background-Check-Trends. For ESR News blogs about Ban the Box, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/tag/ban-the-box/. For more information about background checks, please visit Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) at http://www.esrcheck.com/, call Toll Free 888.999.4474, or email sales@esrcheck.com.