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Los Angeles enacts tough new ‘ban the box’ law

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in Hiring,Human Resources

On Dec. 9, the city of Los Angeles enacted the Los Angeles Fair Chance Initiative for Hiring (LAFCIH), a “ban the box” law that took effect Jan. 22, 2017. Monetary fines for violators kick in July 1, 2017.

The ordinance greatly restricts the criminal history inquiries Los Angeles employers can make and creates a new “fair chance” pre-adverse action process.

Simply put, it prohibits asking about criminal histories on an employment application.

LAFCIH covers all entities located or doing business in Los Angeles that employ 10 or more employees (including owners and managerial or supervisory employees). The ordinance defines “employee” as any individual who performs at least two hours of work on average each week within Los Angeles, and who qualifies for the minimum wage under California law.

In addition to prohibiting application questions about candidates’ criminal histories, the law makes it unlawful for employers to inquire about or require disclosure of an applicant’s criminal history until it has tendered a conditional employment offer. That is defined as an employment offer solely conditioned on an assessment of the applicant’s criminal history and the duties and responsibilities of the position in question.

Under LAFCIH, an employer must engage in a “fair chance process” before taking adverse action against an applicant based on his or her criminal history. Employers must perform a written assessment that links the specific aspects of the applicant’s criminal history with the risks inherent in the duties of the position being sought.

Employers must weigh the nature and gravity of the offense, the time passed since the offense and the nature of the job sought. The city’s Department of Public Works, Bureau of Contract Administration may add other factors later.

Employers must provide the applicant with a written proposed adverse action, a copy of the written assessment and any other documentation supporting the decision.

The applicant has five days to respond before the employer may take the adverse action. If the applicant provides additional information within the five-day period, the employer must address it in a new written assessment.

Note: The ordinance is complex. Los Angeles employers should contact their attorney when making changes to applications, online hiring portals and advertising materials.

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