“Ban the Box” in California: Key Information for Business Owners

In California, the “Ban the Box” law marks a pivotal change in hiring practices, particularly regarding the rights of employees with a history in the legal system. This law, part of a wider movement across the United States, aims to eliminate the checkbox on job applications that inquires about criminal records. Its purpose is to reduce discrimination against individuals with previous convictions, offering them a fair chance at employment. This change in the hiring process is governed by California’s Labor Code Section 432.7 and the Fair Chance Act.

Understanding Labor Code Section 432.7

Labor Code Section 432.7 sets clear rules for employers during the hiring process. It prohibits questions about an applicant’s arrest record if it did not lead to a conviction, aiming to prevent discrimination against those who were arrested but not convicted. The law also restricts employers from considering certain types of convictions in their hiring decisions, such as those that have been expunged, sealed, or dismissed.

An important provision of this code relates to employees who are currently incarcerated. It states that employers cannot fire an employee solely because they have been arrested or detained, provided there has been no conviction. This rule is crucial for protecting employees from losing their jobs due to incarceration when not convicted.

The Fair Chance Act and Its Impact

The Fair Chance Act, implemented in 2018, reinforces these protections. It bars employers with five or more employees from inquiring about an applicant’s conviction history until after a job offer has been made. This ensures that initial evaluations of an applicant’s qualifications are made without considering their criminal record.

If considering a conviction after offering employment, employers must perform an individualized assessment to determine if the applicant’s criminal history is relevant to the job duties. Should an employer decide against hiring based on a conviction, the applicant must be notified and given a chance to respond before the decision is finalized.

Both Labor Code Section 432.7 and the Fair Chance Act reflect California’s efforts to remove employment barriers for individuals with arrest records or convictions, fostering opportunities for their rehabilitation and reintegration into society. In this way, the state hopes to expand and strengthen its workforce by keeping past mistakes, especially those that never led to a conviction, from indefinitely affecting the employment prospects of its residents.

Aligning Your Hiring Practices

At Integrated General Counsel, P.C., we understand that navigating the legal landscape of employment can be very challenging for California businesses. We are here to assist you in aligning your hiring practices with our state’s complex legal standards so you can stay compliant while maximizing your business potential. If you have employment issues or questions, contact us to schedule a consultation or call (925) 399-1529 today. 

Integrated General Counsel