San Francisco Amends Their Fair Chance Ordinance

San Francisco and Los Angeles both developed Ban the Box/Fair Chance Laws prior to the passing of the California statewide ban the box law, which went into effect on January 1, 2018. In some ways, the laws passed in these cities are stronger than the CA law.  Recently, the Board of Supervisors for the City and County of San Francisco amended some portions of their Fair Chance Ordinance to align it with AB 1008, the California Fair Chance Ordinance.

While some aspects of the San Francisco law present stronger protections to job applicants, the California law protects job applicants more favorably than San Francisco’s version. The amendments to San Francisco’s law go in to effect October 1.

Here are the items that were amended.

  • It reduced the number of employees needed to qualify as a covered employer from twenty to five (the same number required to qualify for coverage under California’s law).
  • Although the original version of the Ordinance allowed employers to inquire about criminal history after either a live interview or a conditional offer, the Ordinance now requires that, consistent with California law, covered employers wait until after a conditional offer of employment is made to make any such inquiry.
  • For any violations occurring after the effective date of the amended Ordinance (October 1, 2018), employers are subject to increased penalties for non-compliance: $500 for the first violation; $1,000 for the second violation; and $2,000 for any subsequent violations (under the initial Ordinance, the maximum penalty was $50). If more than one applicant or employee is impacted by an alleged violation, the penalties apply to each employee or applicant.
  • The initial Ordinance granted to the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (“OLSE”) the right to file a civil action against an employer to recover any legal or equitable relief that may be appropriate to remedy the violation, including, but not limited to, reinstatement, back pay and attorney’s fees and costs. The amended Ordinance now grants that same right to file a civil action to aggrieved individuals, provided that he or she files a complaint with the OLSE and exhausts their administrative remedies.

San Francisco also offered another amendment surrounding certain types of convictions for marijuana and cannabis offenses. A new category of “off limits” information was added which states, “A conviction that arises out of conduct that has been decriminalized since the date of the conviction,” which is measured from the date of sentencing. These types of convictions will need to be evaluated to determine whether the charge in question was decriminalized post-conviction.

As can be seen by these updates, there are a lot more things to consider in San Francisco. Prior to October 1, it’s advisable that companies review job applications and interview guidelines and make the necessary changes, as well as reviewing the policies currently in place regarding background checks.