Los Angeles County Adopts “Ban the Box”

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Hey Compliance Warriors and Bosses!

In a significant move towards fostering fair employment practices, Los Angeles County has introduced the Fair Chance Ordinance for Employers, set to take effect on September 3, 2024. This new regulation, aimed at protecting the rights of job applicants and employees with criminal histories, underscores a growing commitment to inclusive hiring practices. Here’s a closer look at the ordinance and its implications for employers and job seekers in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County.

Scope of the Ordinance

The ordinance applies to employers that are located or conduct business in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County and have five or more employees anywhere in the world. This broad definition encompasses the owners, management, supervisory employees, and independent contractors, highlighting the extensive reach of this regulation.

Key Provisions

  • Voluntary Criminal Background Checks: Employers can only conduct criminal background checks or inquire about an applicant’s or employee’s criminal history when it is legally required or after making a conditional job offer. This approach is designed to prevent criminal history from being a barrier to employment at the initial application stages.
  • Notice Requirements: When employers intend to review an individual’s criminal history post-job offer, they must provide notice to the applicant or employee, detailing what will be reviewed and the reasons for it. This transparency aims to ensure fairness in the employment process.
  • Restricted Inquiries: Even after extending a job offer, employers are prohibited from asking about certain types of criminal history, such as arrests not leading to conviction, underscoring a commitment to judging applicants on their qualifications rather than past interactions with the criminal justice system.
  • Individual Assessment: Echoing the principles of “ban the box” laws, the ordinance requires employers to conduct an individual assessment of an applicant’s or employee’s relevant history before making any employment decisions that could negatively impact them. This process must consider the nature of the job, the history in question, and how long ago the events occurred.
  • Additional Requirements: Employers are also mandated to meet specific notice, anti-retaliation, and recordkeeping requirements, further protecting the rights of individuals with criminal histories. Workplaces must display ordinance notices in both English and any other languages spoken by at least 10% of the workforce, ensuring widespread awareness and compliance.

Impact and Importance

The Los Angeles County Fair Chance Ordinance for Employers represents a crucial step forward in creating equitable employment opportunities for all individuals, regardless of their criminal history. By removing barriers to employment for those who have had previous encounters with the legal system, this ordinance aims to reduce recidivism, increase community safety, and contribute to a more inclusive economy.

For Employers and Job Seekers

Employers in the affected areas will need to carefully review and revise their hiring practices to comply with the new requirements. This may involve updating application forms, training HR personnel on the new rules, and establishing processes for conducting individual assessments.

For job seekers with criminal histories, this ordinance opens up new pathways to employment, offering a fair chance to compete for jobs based on their current qualifications and abilities. It serves as a reminder that one’s past does not define their future potential or their right to seek meaningful employment.

As Los Angeles County joins the growing list of jurisdictions adopting “ban the box” policies, it is clear that the movement towards more inclusive hiring practices is gaining momentum. This ordinance is not just a legal requirement; it’s a moral imperative, signaling a shift towards a more just and equitable society for all.


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