On April 3, 2018, San Francisco amended its Fair Chance Ordinance, the city and county’s so-called “ban-the-box” legislation that limits how private employers can use an applicant’s criminal history in employment decisions. The amendments, which take effect on October 1, 2018, expand the scope and penalties of the San Francisco ordinance and add to the growing framework of ban-the-box legislation across California. The complete text of the amendment can be found here.
In June, new laws will go into effect that restrict employers’ ability to request and use criminal history information about applicants in three jurisdictions: Kansas City, Missouri; the State of Washington; and the city of Spokane, Washington.
Date: Thursday, November 16, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM PST
Please join Hunton & Williams LLP for a complimentary webinar that will address current concerns faced by employers in California. This program, co-sponsored by Welch Consulting, will examine the following issues:
- Fair Pay issues
- Recent PAGA concerns
- “Ban the Box” and background checks
- Sick leave
- Changing local and regional ordinances
- Sexual harassment
We will also discuss ways to address potential risks proactively, including the use of statistical analyses to avoid future litigation.
We hope you can join us for what should be a very interesting and educational program.
Register by clicking here.
Questions? Contact Visalaya Hirunpidok at firstname.lastname@example.org or 213.532.2003.
The New York City Commission on Human Rights recently amended its rules to establish certain definitions and procedures applying the Fair Chance Act. The Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against job applicants and employees on the basis of criminal history, and is particularly important for employers for two reasons: (1) it applies not only to criminal background checks performed by third-party vendors but also to checks performed entirely by the company, and (2) out-of-state non-employers may be held liable for aiding and abetting violations of the Act. For more on this latter point, read our prior post on the New York Court of Appeals opinion in Griffin v. Sirva, Inc.
At the request of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the New York Court of Appeals recently answered several questions regarding liability under the New York Human Rights Law Section 296(15)—which prohibits denying employment on the basis of criminal convictions when doing so violates New York Correction Law Article 23-A—and Section 296(6)—which prohibits aiding and abetting such discrimination.
On January 22, 2017, the City of Los Angeles ‘banned the box’ when the Los Angeles Fair Chance Initiative for Hiring (Ban the Box) (the “Initiative”) went into effect, prohibiting private employers in Los Angeles “from inquiring into or seeking a job applicant’s criminal history unless and until a conditional offer of employment” is made to the individual. In doing so, Los Angeles becomes the fourth California city to ‘ban the box’ with greater protections than the state statute, and the second to do so with respect to private employers. If an employer makes a conditional offer of employment and then receives information about an applicant’s criminal history, the employer cannot take an adverse employment action against the applicant based on that history until (1) a written assessment has taken place and (2) a Fair Chance Process has occurred.
Retailer Big Lots Stores, Inc. is facing a putative class action in Philadelphia, wherein the plaintiff alleges that the company “systematically” violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s (“FCRA”) “standalone disclosure requirement” by making prospective employees sign a document used as a background check consent form that contained extraneous information. Among other things, the plaintiff alleges that Big Lots’ form violates the FCRA because it includes the following three categories of extraneous information: (1) an “implied liability waiver” (specifically, a statement that the applicant “fully understand[s] that all employment decisions are based on legitimate nondiscriminatory reasons”); (2) state-specific notices; and (3) information on how background information will be gathered and from which sources, statements pertaining to disputing any information, and the name and contact information of the consumer reporting agency.
On April 3, 2015, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed an Executive Order that “bans the box” and prohibits Virginia agencies, boards, and commissions from asking questions about an applicant’s criminal history on employment applications.
On February 20, 2015, a unanimous panel of the Fourth Circuit affirmed the exclusion of expert testimony by EEOC expert Kevin Murphy and the grant of summary judgment against the EEOC in its suit challenging Freeman’s use of credit and criminal background checks in the hiring process. Although the Fourth Circuit’s decision expressed no opinion on the merits of the EEOC’s claim, the court found summary judgment was justified because the “sheer number of mistakes and omissions” in Murphy’s analysis rendered it unreliable. While the court’s published opinion cited the “alarming number” of “mind-boggling errors” by Murphy, it was a concurring opinion by Judge Agee (which is actually longer than the unanimous decision of the court) that more thoroughly and severely criticized Murphy’s expert testimony and the EEOC’s “disappointing litigation conduct.” According to Judge Agee, Murphy’s work was “riddled with fundamental errors, mistakes, and misrepresentations,” but even more disquieting was what appears to be a “pattern of suspect work from Murphy,” and the EEOC’s continued championing of Murphy “[d]espite [his] record of slipshod work, faulty analysis, and statistical sleight of hand.” Judge Agee concluded:
The EEOC wields significant power… The EEOC must be constantly vigilant that it does not abuse the power conferred upon it by Congress. … The Commission’s conduct in this case suggests that its exercise of vigilance has been lacking. It would serve the agency well in the future to reconsider how it might better discharge the responsibilities delegated to it or face the consequences for failing to do so.
The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a case that could have important implications to disparate impact analysis, including on criminal background checks. The case also foreshadows further challenges from the Texas Attorney General to aggressive positions taken by federal enforcement agencies in regard to disparate impact. The case is Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs, et al., v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., Case No. 13-1371, and is being argued by the Texas Attorney General.