Last December the City Council voted to pass the Los Angeles Fair Chance Initiative (LAFCI), an ordinance that prohibits many business owners from asking about a potential job applicant’s prior criminal history, at least until a conditional job offer has been made.
The ordinance applies to all employers located in or doing business in the City of Los Angeles with ten or more employees and all city contractors with ten or more employees. There are some exceptions that apply in certain fields, with child care and law enforcement being prime examples.
The idea behind the initiative, also regularly referred to as ban the box laws, is to stop employers from automatically dismissing a job candidate because they have been convicted of a crime.
Make sure you know as an employer whether it is okay, and at what step of the process, to ask a job candidate if they have been convicted of a crime.
Companies covered by this new ordinance should immediately take the following steps:
The LAFCI went into effect in January, and the ordinance is expected to be enforced by the city’s Office of Wage Standards. Penalties for violating the ordinance will begin on July 1. Fines could be up to $500 for the 1st violation, $1000 for the 2nd violation and up to $2000.00 for the 3rd and subsequent violations. Violations of the notice and record retention requirements will result in fines of up to $500 for each violation. An individual who reports the violation may receive up to $500 if the allegations are upheld. Compliance with this law will help employers avoid unnecessary fines that impact their bottom line.
An estimated 1 in 4 adult Californians has an arrest or conviction record on file with the state. That number grows to 1 in 3 for the country as a whole. Ban the box laws like LAFCI are rapidly gaining momentum with 11 major cities and nine states across the nation having adopted similar legislation. Nationwide employers will want to assess their employment screening practices, and for areas not yet affected it could just be a matter of time. As for the City of Los Angeles – it is here!