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June 25th, 2018 / by Mike Cooney

Fair Chance in Washington State

Washington State’s new Fair Chance Act went into effect June 6th, 2018. This version of a ban-the-box law specifically prohibits employers from obtaining information, either in writing or verbally, about job applicants prior arrests or convictions until after the applicant is determined to be qualified or the position. Once a candidate has been identified as qualified, the law does not restrict employers from then inquiring or otherwise obtaining background information, such as criminal convictions.

This Act covers expansive groups of employers including: public agencies, private individuals, businesses and corporations, contractors, temporary staffing agencies, training and apprenticeship programs, and job placement, referral, and employment agencies. If you fall under one of those categories, we’ve compiled some quick tips for compliance with the new law below.

1. Update job applications to remove questions about criminal history.
2. Review job postings to ensure there is no deterrent language such as “no felons” or “no criminal background”. Similar phrases that would deter candidates with criminal backgrounds from applying such as “must have clean driving record” should also be removed from job postings.
3. Train recruiters and hiring managers to know that questions regarding criminal history are prohibited until after the initial interview stage.
4. Adjust the timing of when background checks occur in the interview process, so they are initiated after an initial interview.
5. Review and document internal policies used when considering an applicant’s criminal record. This includes examining criteria like: time between completion of sentence and interview, effect the conviction has on the ability to perform the duties of the job (i.e., the candidate was convicted of embezzlement and is applying for an accounting position), the seriousness of the criminal conviction, and the number and types of convictions.