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New for 2018: Employers can no longer ask applicants about their - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

New for 2018: Employers can no longer ask applicants about their criminal history

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Starting Monday, businesses in California can no longer ask applicants if they’ve been convicted of a crime.

The new law is intended to help ex-convicts get jobs and potentially stay out of trouble.

Employers can no longer include the question, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” on their applications.

“You have to change your applications both online and in paper. You have to ban the box, you have to eliminate the box,” said Kathy Eppright, a San Luis Obispo-based attorney.

Managers cannot ask about a person’s criminal background during the interview process and they cannot conduct a background check on the applicant until after they’ve offered a person the job.

“The first thing your employer finds out shouldn’t be that you have a criminal record. You should be judged on your background, education, your work experience, it gives them an opportunity to recover and be productive members of society and frankly, that’s what we should all want,” said Scott Taylor, a criminal defense attorney.

Small business owner Sharon Gove said the change could help hundreds of people get a job, but she’s concerned about what could happen.

“I have a lot of customers who bring in jewelry to be repaired so I am taking care of other people’s stuff. I need honest people working with me,” she said.

If the applicant does have a criminal history, the employer can rescind the offer but the employer must write to the applicant with specific information as to why the offer was revoked. 

The applicant then could challenge it or offer some explanation as to why their criminal background shouldn’t be a disqualifying factor.

“The employer does have the right, in the end, to make the judgment call that this has a direct and adverse impact or relationship on the duties that this person is being considered for the job,” Eppright said.

This new law goes into effect first thing Monday and will apply to employers who have five or more employees.

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