While the relevant (to this discussion) changes made to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) took effect on January 1, 2018, many CA residents don't yet know about the way the state imposed new restrictions on an employer’s ability to make pre-hiring and personnel decisions based on a person's criminal history. ...Which is a shame as the change in the law came about as an effort to give ex-offenders a second chance at becoming upstanding citizens who contribute successfully to their communities.
Writing on this subject, Forbes magazine stated: "A 2011 study found that employment was the most significant influence on whether a formerly incarcerated person re-offended. 'Two years after release nearly twice as many employed people with records had avoided another brush with the law than their unemployed counterparts.' A three-year study found that a year of employment reduced the recidivism rate by 34%, as compared to the Department of Correction’s average recidivism rate."
Previous to this change in the law, only state and local agencies were prohibited from asking an applicant about their criminal record until the person was found to be otherwise qualified for the position. Now however, all employers (in California, and with five or more employees,) are prohibited from (1) asking about the applicant's criminal history on the initial job application, (2) asking about or considering the applications criminal history until after the applicant has received a conditional job offer, or (3) considering or sharing information about the applicants criminal history where: the applicant was arrested, but never charged, (subject to some exceptions under the Labor Code), the applicant earned a dismissal of their case through participation in a diversion program, or the conviction was expunged, dismissed or sealed.
Your next question is probably "so what if I'm conditionally offered a job, and then I disclose my conviction?" In that case, the employer is prohibited from denying you the job based solely on the conviction(s) without performing an assessment of the facts, particular to the applicant. As part of the assessment, the employer should consider the nature and gravity of the offense, the time that has passed since the arrest and the completion of the sentence, and the nature of the job sought. In order to deny he applicant the job, the employer needs to show that the conviction is linked to the applicants proposed job duties, and the applicant must be informed of the employer's intent to deny the applicant the position, if there is to be one, in writing.
As part of the written disclosure, the employer needs to give the applicant notice of the convictions which form the basis for the denial, provide the applicant a copy of the conviction history paperwork (if it is available,) and inform the applicant that they have 5 business days to provide a response. To be relevant, the applicant's response should address statements regarding the accuracy of the conviction report, evidence mitigating the offense, or evidenced of the persons rehabilitation. The employer must wait for the 5-day period to expire before making a final decision to deny employment.
In order to mitigate the consequences of any arrest or conviction, speak with a qualified attorney.
Devina strives to make information relevant to the lives of her clients easily accessible.