Los Angeles "Bans the Box"
Posted December 6, 2016

On November 30, 2016, the Los Angeles City Council passed the Fair Chance Initiative (FCI) by a 13-1 vote and joined the ever-growing nationwide “Ban-the-Box” initiative limiting the employer’s right to inquire about the criminal history of applicants. Councilmember Curren D. Price indicated that the new law should go into effect in January 2017. Mayor Garcetti commented, “When formerly incarcerated men and women come home from jail or prison, they deserve every chance to turn their circumstances around, earn a living, and redefine themselves through integrity and hard work.”

The FCI will apply to all City contractors as well as private employers with 10 or more employees. The law includes a number of exemptions applicable to defined fields such as law enforcement and child care. Once implemented, the FCI will prevent affected employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history (including conducting any background check) until after a “conditional offer of employment” has been made. Employers also will be prohibited from taking any adverse action (including revocation of the conditional employment offer), unless the employer complies with various steps required under both state and federal rules. Employers who intend to use post-offer background screening are strongly encouraged to review the EEOC “Green Factors” (https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/arrest_conviction.cfm) and should consult with employment counsel before revoking a conditional offer based on information uncovered during the screening process.

The ordinance will likely be enforced by the City's Office of Wage Standards. Violations of these rules will result in penalties of $500 (1st violation); $1,000 (2nd violation); and $2,000 (3rd violation). The ordinance also requires that affected employers must keep every document related to employment applications for a minimum of three years.

If you have questions about the FCI, employment applications, or any other employment law questions, contact the employment attorneys at LightGabler for assistance.