California enacts "Ban the Box" legislation

Assembly Bill 218 (AB 218), making California the most recent state to “Ban the Box”. The bill prohibits requesting criminal background information on the initial employment application for local and state government employees, with the goal of reducing unnecessary barriers to employment for the one in four adult Californians who have an arrest or conviction record. California joins nine states and over 50 cities and counties across the United States that have adopted similar legislation. “I am proud that with this bill, the state and our cities and counties take an important step toward allowing people with a conviction history to compete fairly for employment without compromising safety and security on the job,” said Assemblymember Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento). “Stable employment significantly lowers recidivism and promotes public safety – a job is the best crime prevention program. This policy will open doors for qualified workers who have turned their lives around,” he added. AB 218 removes any inquiry into a conviction history on an initial job application and delays any background check until the employer has determined that the applicant’s qualifications meet the job requirements. Under Governor Schwarzenegger, the State Personnel Board removed the question from job applications for state positions in 2010 and added a criminal history supplemental questionnaire for exempted positions. Under the bill, criminal history information can still be requested on the initial employment application for law enforcement positions, positions working with children, the elderly or disabled, and other sensitive positions, and criminal background checks can be done at the discretion of the employer. AB 218 affects only when, not whether, employers may consider criminal conviction history for employment purposes.  ]]>

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