For many years, Congress has tried to pass “ban-the-box” legislation to prevent employers from asking about criminal background until the person has had an opportunity to present his or her qualifications for the job. It would also prevent discrimination when applying for college and housing. The evidence is clear that, when “Have you ever been arrested?” is on the employment questionnaire, the ability to get ahead in life is stifled. Unfortunately, Congress hasn’t been successful in fully addressing this issue.
In our own state, we are finally making progress.
Earlier this year, the Fair Chance Act was signed and went into effect on June 6, 2018. Washington is one of 11 states to move forward with their own legislation rather than wait for Congress. The law would delay criminal background checks and forbid employers from categorically excluding individuals from their initial employment consideration if the applicant is otherwise qualified. There are several exceptions to the rule, including those who work with children under age 18, those who work with vulnerable adults, employees who must comply with the Securities Exchange Act, volunteers, financial institutions, and certain positions in law enforcement agencies or criminal justice agencies. Since a relatively small number of people fall into those exceptions, this is a positive step toward future success and gainful employment.
Generally speaking, the Fair Chance Act is just that—it gives those with a “record” a chance.
If you have any questions about the Fair Chance Act, give our office a call. Witt Law Group is a criminal defense and personal injury law firm with offices in Gig Harbor and Bremerton Washington. Thanks for reading.