For anyone who has ever been convicted of a felony, even if they have done their time or finished probation so they are not long “on papers,” they know just how difficult it can be to a get a job. This is a problem for convicted workers in need of a job, but it is also a problem for society.
The reason it has become increasingly clear that banning convicted felons from working is problematic is that a lack of employment opportunities is one of the biggest contributors to recidivism. How can we expect most of the people who are released from prison to stay on the straight and narrow and not commit any future crimes if they have no means of supporting themselves or their families? Even public assistance may not be an option, because many state and federal programs across the nation ban convicted felons. As our Orange Country employment attorneys can explain, the problem arose when prospective employees had to fill out a job application and check off the box that they were convicted of a felony at some point. This made them largely unhirable. This created a problem for the employees, as well some industries, such as those in the restaurant business in need of kitchen staff.
To combat this problem, cities in California, including Los Angeles, have enacted what has become known as a “Ban the Box” law. This law was passed in late 2016 and bans employers from making inquiries of criminal histories and from performing background checks looking for felonies in many cases.
Specifically, the law applies to private employers with at least 10 employees, and they will not be allowed to inquire about a candidate’s criminal history until an offer has been made. An inquiry includes asking the employer or performing an independent background check. There are exceptions to this law, and they include jobs that require a criminal background check by law, jobs that require the applicant to carry a firearm, and in cases where the position is not legally available to a person convicted of a crime under state or federal law.
According to a recent news article from The Spokane Review, these ban the box laws are sweeping the nation, and the state of Washington already sent their version of the law for a full house review. If it is passed, the entire state will have a ban the box law on the books that will apply to numerous types of employers and should hopefully help get people back to work and keep them out of prison.
If you are living in Los Angeles, and you have applied for a job and believe you were discriminated against based upon a criminal record, you should contact an experienced employment lawyer as soon as possible to see if you have a valid claim. In many of these cases, there are time-sensitive issues that your attorney must address, so it is best not to wait too long. The law also disfavors people who “sit on their rights,” as it is often called.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.
Washington “ban the box” bill sent to full House, April 4, 2017, By Jim Camden, The Spokane Review
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