Beginning this past Tuesday, July 1st, public job applications must remove questions about a person’s convictions from their initial job applications, and postpone those questions until later in the hiring process. This new law, passed on October 10, 2013 as AB 218, and more commonly known as “Ban the Box,” is a huge success for encouraging and implementing fair hiring practices for people with criminal records in CA—people who are able and motivated to work!
Under CA’s new “Ban the Box” law, state and local government employers can only ask about certain past convictions after it has been established that the applicant meets the “minimum employment qualifications” for the job, or later in the hiring process. Certain public employers, such as law enforcement and school districts, however, are exempt from the law. Any job positions subject to a criminal background check by an occupational or licensing law are also exempt.
“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,” said Assemblymember Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento), who championed the measure.
Thanks to the “Ban the Box” campaign, the one-in-four adult Californians, or seven million adults, with a criminal record will now have a fair chance to compete for public sector jobs.
Today, to celebrate this new law, Root & Rebound published its very first Guide for Employers: Hiring People with Criminal Records. The guide is available for free on our website! In line with Root & Rebound’s work to improve the lives of people in reentry, and to reduce the barriers they face, this Guide for Employers explains the legal shift that is taking place to promote the hiring of people with records and all of the laws and best practices that employers should follow to protect every job applicant’s civil rights and privacy rights. The guide also provides useful advice for employers on how to take care of their companies by mitigating general risk and purchasing insurance, and how to utilize the benefits and incentives offered to employers who hire people with criminal records.
Also this week, a new survey from the National Employment Law Project (NELP) found that public employers across the state have successfully put in place new applications to comply with the new law—in fact, some counties and cities have gone even further in their application of fair hiring practices:
• Around half of the largest counties and cities (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 new law, delaying the criminal-history inquiry until the employer makes a conditional offer of employment, or later.
• Additionally, the city & county of San Francisco passed a “Fair Chance” local ordinance extending the policy to private sector employers as well. The new SF law goes into effect for private employers on August 13, 2014.
We applaud the efforts of all those that led the “Ban the Box” campaign, including, All of Us or None, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, the National Employment Law Project, and PICO California.
This is an exciting time as the laws in our state finally begin to reflect and uphold the dignity of formerly incarcerated people who are working hard to rebuild their lives and contribute to society. There is no reason to discriminate against people who are fully employable simply because of past convictions. This law is a great step forward in showing through the power of the law that reentering people have a place in our communities.
There is more to do—we must continue to reduce discriminatory barriers to ensure that every individual is given a meaningful second chance.
—The R & R Team