Seattle City Council Passes Ordinance Restricting Use Of Criminal Background Checks

by Perkins Coie
Contact

On June 10, 2013, the Seattle City Council unanimously approved the “Job Assistance Bill,” which restricts when and how employers may seek and use criminal background information.  Under the new law, employers in Seattle may no longer require job applicants to check a box indicating whether they have ever been arrested or convicted of a crime.  Nor may employers include “no felons need apply” or similar language in job postings.

In addition to “banning the box,” the ordinance forbids employers from performing criminal background checks on job applicants until after an employer extends a conditional offer of employment to an applicant.  Moreover, before taking any adverse employment action based on an applicant’s criminal history, an employer must identify the source of the criminal records and give the applicant a reasonable opportunity to explain or correct the information.  Employers must hold a conditional job offer open for two days to allow an applicant time to explain his or her criminal history or refute the record.

The ordinance allows employers to consider conviction records or conduct related to an arrest (but not the arrest record alone) for a “legitimate business reason.”  The ordinance defines “legitimate business reason” as an employer’s good-faith belief that the nature of the criminal conduct underlying the charge or conviction will either have a negative impact on the employee’s or applicant’s fitness or ability to perform the position or will harm people, property, or the business reputation or business assets of the employer.  To determine whether there is a legitimate business reason, the ordinance instructs an employer to consider factors including the seriousness of the crime, the number and types of convictions, the time elapsed since conviction or charge, rehabilitation and good conduct, the duties and responsibilities of the position, and the place and manner in which the position will be performed. 

Although significantly limiting employers’ use of criminal background checks, the ordinance does not apply to applicants seeking jobs in law enforcement, policing, crime prevention, security, criminal justice or private investigative services, or to applicants for jobs that allow unsupervised access to children under age sixteen, developmentally disabled persons or vulnerable adults.  Nor does it apply to jobs for which state or federal law requires an employer to consider an applicant’s criminal records for employment purposes.

In addition to the exclusions for certain positions and the provision allowing employers to consider criminal history for legitimate business reasons, the final version of the ordinance includes several important concessions to employers.  The ordinance does not create a private right of action for an applicant to sue a prospective employer if the applicant is turned down for a position.  The final ordinance excludes a provision that would have required employers to fill out a lengthy form describing why they declined an applicant, and it does not require an employer to accommodate an employee’s obligations to the criminal justice system, including scheduling parole hearings.  Although the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR) is responsible for enforcing the new law, SOCR is required to convene a panel of stakeholders, including those from the employer community, to aid in developing regulations to implement the ordinance.

Going forward, employers must revise application materials for positions affected by the ordinance by removing questions about criminal history, and they must remove “felons need not apply” and similar language from job postings. 

The ordinance is effective beginning November 1, 2013 and applies to all employees who spend at least 50% of their time in Seattle.  It applies to all employers who employ one or more employees, but the ordinance is not explicit as to whether it applies to employers located outside of Seattle with employees who work 50% or more within Seattle.  Federal and state government employees as well as non-Seattle county and local government employees are excluded.  The full text of the ordinance may be found here.

Written by:

Perkins Coie
Contact
more
less

Perkins Coie on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.
Feedback? Tell us what you think of the new jdsupra.com!