New Law Bans the Box in Los Angeles 
New Law Bans the Box in Los Angeles 

Effective January 22, 2017, the Los Angeles Fair Chance Initiative for Hiring will prohibit most employers in the City of Los Angeles from inquiring about a job applicant’s possible criminal history until an initial job offer is made.  Part of a national trend of “ban the box” laws, the ordinance bans the “check the box” or other questions on a job application regarding criminal convictions and prohibits employers from inquiring about such convictions by any other means until a conditional employment offer is made.  With limited exceptions, the ordinance applies to businesses with at least 10 employees who perform at least two hours of work on average each week in the city, including owners and managers.

The law also requires that employers wishing to rescind a job offer after learning of an applicant’s criminal history would have to issue a written report showing linkage between the applicant’s criminal history and risks inherent in the duties in the position sought, which should include the nature of the offense and the time that has passed since the conviction or release from incarceration as well as the nature of the position.  The employer must provide the report to the applicant, after which the applicant has five business days within which to appeal the decision by providing the employer with mitigating information or evidence of the history’s inaccuracy. The employer must consider the applicant’s response and complete a written reassessment.  If the employer stands by its initial decision, it must thereafter inform the applicant in writing and provide a copy of the reassessment.  

Employers must include in job postings that qualified applicants with criminal histories (one or more criminal misdemeanor or felony convictions for which the person has been placed on probation, fined, imprisoned or paroled) will be considered.  The law requires that a notice of the ordinance be posted at job sites, which notice will be provided by the City of Los Angeles.

Violations will carry a $500 penalty for a first offense, $1,000 for a second offense and $2,000 for a third offense, although only written warnings will be given for violations which occur before July 1, 2017.  Violations of job posting requirements carry a $500 fine.  The law also permits job applicants to file civil enforcement actions.

This blog is presented under protest by the law firm of Ervin Cohen & Jessup LLP.  It is essentially the random thoughts and opinions of someone who lives in the trenches of the war that often is employment law–he/she may well be a little shell-shocked.  So if you are thinking “woohoo, I just landed some free legal advice that will fix all my problems!”, think again.  This is commentary, people, a sketchy overview of some current legal issue with a dose of humor, but commentary nonetheless; as if Dennis Miller were a lawyer…and still mildly amusing.  No legal advice here; you would have to pay real US currency for that (unless you are my mom, and even then there are limits).  But feel free to contact us with your questions and comments—who knows, we might even answer you.  And if you want to spread this stuff around, feel free to do so, but please keep it in its present form (‘cause you can’t mess with this kind of poetry).  Big news: Copyright 2016.  All rights reserved; yep, all of them.

If you have any questions about this article, contact the writer directly, assuming he or she was brave enough to attach their name to it.  If you have any questions regarding this blog or your life in general, contact Kelly O. Scott, Esq., commander in chief of this blog and Head Honcho (official legal title) of ECJ’s Employment Law Department.

Tags: HR


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