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Corporate Screening wants to remind employers that San Francisco’s newest “ban the box” law goes into effect on August 13, 2014. “Ban the box” refers to removing the question asking about criminal history from the initial job application. The new law in San Francisco does not prohibit criminal background checks, but employers cannot ask about an applicant’s criminal history on the application or during the first interview.

Earlier this year, we published blogs about the amendments to San Francisco’s “ban the box” law, which affect housing providers, private employers with 20 or more employees, and city contractors (to read the blogs, click here and here). Called the Fair Chance Ordinance, the new law is one of (if not the most) restrictive in the country on employers’ use of criminal background checks.

The following summarizes significant sections of the new law (for complete information, as well as access to the text of the Fair Chance Ordinance, click here):

Adverse Action Notice: If an employer rejects an applicant based on criminal history, a pre-adverse and a final adverse notice are required. The notice must identify the specific criminal history that provides the basis for the adverse decision.
Criminal History: In keeping with EEOC guidelines, San Francisco employers can consider criminal history information only if it has “a direct and specific negative bearing on [the applicant’s] ability to perform the duties or responsibilities necessarily related to the employment position.”
Posters: San Francisco’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE) is required to publish a poster within six months of when the new rules go into effect.
Non-compliance: Penalties for not complying with the ordinance could be significant.

To assist employers with the new adverse action notice requirements, Corporate Screening posted an updated pre-adverse action letter. It is available in the Resources section when you log into EASE.

We encourage employers doing business in the area to review the new law and become familiar with its requirements. It is also important to examine your hiring practices and application forms to ensure that they comply with the new regulations. And if you have questions about compliance, Corporate Screening’s knowledgeable representatives are here to assist you.