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As an update to the Client Alert posted in December, Corporate Screening would like to share the following information about the recent Los Angeles “ban the box” legislation that will go into effect this month.

On December 19, 2016, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed into law the Los Angeles Fair Chance Initiative for Hiring. The new ordinance becomes effective on January 22, 2017.

Under the ordinance, employers located in Los Angeles are prohibited from inquiring into or seeking a job applicant’s criminal history unless and until a conditional offer of employment has been made to the applicant. This includes prohibiting:

  • Questions on an initial employment application regarding criminal history;
  • Questions about criminal history during an in-person interview; and
  • Conducting any sort of criminal history background check before extending a conditional offer.

Additionally, employers have posting requirements to inform applicants of the provisions of the ordinance.

Adverse Action Requirements

Once employers review an applicant’s criminal history, the employer may not take any adverse action (such as a denial of employment) unless the employer completes and provides the applicant with a written assessment of the applicant’s criminal history “that effectively links the specific aspects of the applicant’s criminal history with risks inherent in the duties of the employment position sought by the applicant.”

Employers are also required to:

  • Provide the applicant with written notice of the adverse action;
  • Provide the applicant with five days to submit information refuting the findings of the assessment; and
  • Retain records of such adverse action assessments for a period of three years from the date of the initial application.

Exceptions to the ordinance include:

  • If the employer is required by law to inquire about criminal history;
  • If the position requires the applicant to carry a gun; or
  • If other laws prohibit persons with criminal histories to hold the position in question.

Enforcement and Penalties

Under the ordinance, employers are subject to administrative enforcement as well as civil action in court.

  • Applicants or employees that believe an employer may be in violation of the ordinance may report the alleged violation within one year of the violation to the Department of Public Works, Bureau of Contract Administration (“The Department”), which shall investigate the complaint.
  • The Department may also initiate an investigation of alleged violations.
  • If an employer is found to be in violation of the ordinance the Department will issue a written notice requiring the employer to cure the violation and may impose administrative fines of up to $2,000 per violation.
  • An applicant or employee may also bring a civil action in court for violation of the ordinance within one year of completion of the administrative enforcement process.
  • The Department is authorized to issue warnings to employers immediately with penalties and fines being effective July 1, 2017.

Employers should review and revise their hiring practices accordingly.