California Passes “Ban the Box” Legislation

Add California to the list of states that have passed a law to “ban the box” (i.e. prohibiting employers’ from asking about applicants’ previous criminal history on a job application). Effective July 1, 2014, Assembly Bill 218 introduced by Sacramento Democratic Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, requires public employers to determine a job applicant’s minimum qualifications before they ask about the person’s conviction history.

This would mean that employers would have to eliminate the check box question on most standard employment applications which ask, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?”

Once the law goes into effect, employers will have to wait until later in the hiring process to inquire about an applicants’ previous criminal history.

However, professions that legally require a criminal conviction background check (like police officers) are exempt. This new law is following a movement by unions and civil rights groups already energized by recent federal warnings that using criminal records checks as an initial screening tool is discriminatory.

There are many opponents of this bill which include the California State Association of Counties and the California District Attorneys Association, which fear that this new law would “undercut security, usurp local authority and erode public trust.”

What are your thoughts?