Effective August 13, 2014, under San Francisco’s Fair Chance Ordinance, companies with 20 or more employees are prohibited from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history on the employment application or during the first live interview. Along with banning the box, the ordinance imposes several additional restrictions and mandates certain considerations for individualized assessment. San Francisco employers must also ensure that their notice and consent forms for criminal background inquiries later in the process comply with the guidelines that will be published by San Francisco’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE) as well as with the already existing background check disclosure/authorization requirements under California’s ICRAA and the FCRA.
San Francisco is the ninth jurisdiction with legislation that affects private employers. The remaining eight are the states of Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island, and the cities of Buffalo, NY, Newark, NJ, Philadelphia, PA, and Seattle, WA. Multi-state employers should consider whether their particular circumstances warrant adopting individualized employment applications for jurisdictions with ban-the-box laws, or whether to use a nationwide standard form. Employers who opt for a standard electronic application for all locations need to include a clear and unambiguous disclaimer for applicants in each applicable ban-the-box jurisdiction. It is uncertain whether such disclaimers are sufficient for paper applications of multi-state employers in at least one ban-the-box jurisdiction (Minnesota) or if the box must be removed altogether.
For more information on ban-the-box legislation, see the recently published briefing paper by the National Employment Law Project titled Statewide Ban the Box – Reducing Unfair Barriers to Employment of People with Criminal Records.
Note: Effective August 13, 2014, with our California employment-purpose disclosure/ authorization form, we will be including a supplemental disclosure/authorization notice as prescribed by the OLSE, to use by San Francisco employers.