Recently, the Los Angeles City Council voted to pass the Fair Chance Initiative, which will go into effect on January 1, 2017.  This initiative follows the steps taken by other cities, counties and states that have created initiatives around the ideals of the Ban the Box Movement, a movement that is designed to provide opportunities for people with criminal records to have a fair opportunity to obtain employment.

The Fair Chance Initiative, as passed by the Los Angeles City Council is an ordinance designed to prohibit employers from asking about an applicant’s criminal history until they have extended a conditional offer of employment.  This ordinance will be applicable to all city contractors, as well as all private employers with ten or more employees.  Like other Ban the Box initiatives, there will be some exceptions made when it comes to positions in jobs such as law enforcement or child care.

In all, more than 100 jurisdictions in 23 states have created laws similar.  The general idea behind these initiatives is to provide a fair opportunity for people with criminal records to obtain employment, without being initially dismissed by the fact that they have a record. This pushes employers to consider them before any bias can be applied based on their past.

The EEOC supports the Ban the Box initiative and has prosecuted employers who have blanket bans on hiring people with felony convictions.  In 2012, the EEOC created a guidance that encouraged employers to individually assess the circumstances surrounding past convictions and identify if the conviction would adversely affect the ability of the job candidate to do the job that they are applying for.

For companies that violate the Los Angeles Fair Chance Initiative, the fine may be up to $500 if the allegation of discrimination is found to be true and upheld.

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