Some of it is good, such as removing laws that forbid licensing of, for example, barbers, due to a felony conviction if the felony has no substantial relationship to the license being applied for; whereas, if the felony was for assault with a straight razor, then denial would be appropriate, but for grand theft auto, maybe not.
But the rash of new laws allowing employment protection by hiding criminal records should cause concern to employers, as this article from Corporate Counsel reports.
“As employers across the U.S. continue to grapple with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s updated guidance on the use of arrest and conviction records in the hiring process, two city council bills from Washington State and Washington D.C. aimed at helping ex-offenders reenter the workforce are causing some employers concern at the local level.
“Pam Devata, a partner in the Chicago office of Seyfarth Shaw, says that both proposals are emulating the EEOC’s recommendation for employers to make an “individualized assessment” of applicants. In April, the commission stated that if an employer finds a conviction in a candidate’s criminal history, it should give the applicant a chance to explain why he or she shouldn’t be excluded from consideration.
“While there is no federal law that prohibits an employer from asking about arrest and conviction records, the EEOC has said that using such records as an absolute disqualification for employment could limit the employment opportunities of some groups protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
“Several states, including Hawaii and Wisconsin, already limit prospective employers’ use of arrest and conviction records. The states have laws and rules ranging from prohibitions against employer questioning of applicants about arrests to restrictions on factoring conviction records into employment decisions.
“A spokesperson for the EEOC declined to comment on the councils’ pending bills.
“Part of the stated purpose of D.C.’s Bill 19-889 is “to create limited liability for employers who hire or retain returning citizens if the employer has taken certain steps to make a good-faith determination that hiring or retaining a returning citizen is favorable” and to “create a certificate of good standing, issued by the Department of Corrections, for qualifying returning citizens.”
“The Seattle bill goes a little further in its restrictions on employers, says Devata. “It says that you’re not supposed to consider an applicant’s criminal history until a conditional offer of employment” is made she says. “The only state that has made that part of a codified law is Hawaii.”
“Both bills, if passed, could create some problems for employers in the two localities.”