Q. I believe I should be able to refuse employment to any prospective employee with a record of criminal conviction. Can I institute a blanket policy that bars employment to applicants with criminal records? Also, what can I ask applicants about their criminal records?
A. It is highly inadvisable to adopt a policy that automatically bars hiring applicants who have criminal conviction records. Such a restriction may violate state and federal laws if an applicant’s conviction is not job-related or the policy disparately impacts a protected class.
The following are prohibited under California law:
- Asking job applicants to disclose information about an arrest or detention not resulting in conviction, or information relating to referral to or participation in a criminal diversion program
- Seeking this information from any other source
- Using such information to make decisions about hiring promoting, training or termination
- Inquiring about convictions for most marijuana possession offenses that are more than two years old.
Under California law, you may ask “an employee or applicant for employment about an arrest for which the employee or applicant is out on bail or on his or her own recognizance pending trial.” Also, peace officers, health care employees and people with access to drugs and medication are subject to certain exceptions to these laws. Exceptions also apply to jobs for which a criminal historyis required by law.