Effective July 1, 2017: Tighter Regulations on Considering Criminal History During Employment Decisions

In 2016, The California Fair Employment and Housing Council introduced revised regulations governing an employer’s consideration of criminal history when making employment decisions. The Office of Administrative Law approved these regulations, and they will become effective on July 1, 2017.

Essentially, these new regulations focus on two areas:

  1. Adverse impact claims
  2. Prohibitions and notice requirements regarding criminal history

Let’s take a closer look at what this may mean for you and how it might impact your employment decision process.

Adverse Impact Claims

Simply put, these new regulations will impose stricter limitations when using criminal records during employment decisions (for example, an employer’s decision to hire, fire, train or discipline an employee). These California regulations now align with federal law stating Employers are prohibited from using criminal history if doing so has an adverse impact on a current or prospective employee.

Likewise, employees are permitted to confirm adverse impact by using criminal conviction statistics, explaining that state/federal statistics of disparities in criminal convictions of a protected category are sufficient to illustrate adverse impact.

If an existing or potential employee establishes a claim, the burden is on the employer to show that the policy regarding consideration of criminal history is “job-related and consistent with business necessity” and takes into consideration the nature of the offense and the amount of time passed since the offense and/or completion of the sentence. Policies that consider convictions older than seven years may be subject to rebuttable presumption. Bright-line disqualification practices are also subject to new regulations. Employers must demonstrate that this practice can clearly distinguish between employees who do or do not impose a risk, and that criminal conviction has a negative impact on ability to perform job duties. Once employers establish this defense, the burden is on the employee to illustrate an alternative resolution.

Prohibitions and notice requirements regarding criminal history

New regulations also detail criminal history information that employers may no longer consider, and include additional requirements for providing applicant notice. Specifically, employers are prohibited from considering:

  • Arrests that did not result in conviction
  • Pre- or Post-trial diversion
  • Dismissed, sealed, or expunged conviction
  • Certain juvenile criminal history
  • Non-felony conviction (older than two years) of marijuana possession

If an employer receives a disqualifying conviction from a source other than the application, the employer must now provide notice of a disqualifying conviction prior to adverse action AND allow the applicant reasonable opportunity to respond with evidence of factual inaccuracy.

PLEASE NOTE: This notice and opportunity-to-respond requirement differs from the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) and “Ban the Box” California ordinances.

Prior to July 1, 2017, please take a moment to review your policies. California Employers should:

  • Reassess use of bright-line disqualifications
  • Update policies/procedures to remove prohibited disqualifications
  • Confirm that consumer reporting agencies used to screen applicants have implemented new regulations
  • Create policy/procedure providing notice of disqualifying conviction, as now required
  • Remain aware of federal/local regulations imposing additional limitations

The information contained herein is not specific legal advice, and should not be construed as such. You should discuss the use of policies and practices regarding employment decisions with your organization’s legal counsel to ensure regulatory compliance. For more information these and other regulations regarding employment screening, please contact A-Check Global via our contact page or 877-345-2021 today.

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