Criminal History Removed Off State, Local Government Applications in California

People who seek jobs with state or local government agencies in California will not be asked on their initial applications whether they have been convicted of a crime, under legislation that was signed into law Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown.
October 11, 2013

People who seek jobs with state or local government agencies in California will not be asked on their initial applications whether they have been convicted of a crime, under legislation that was signed into law Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

AB218 by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, effective in July, will prohibit most government employers from requiring disclosure of past convictions on initial applications, information that often ends any realistic job prospects. Supporters promoted the bill as offering a second chance to ex-offenders.

Employers will be allowed to ask about criminal records, or run a background check, after determining that an applicant meets the minimum job qualifications. The restrictions will not apply to police, schoolteachers or other government jobs working with children, the elderly or the disabled, in which applicants can be asked about criminal convictions.

"A mistake from your past shouldn't be a life sentence to joblessness," said attorney Michelle Rodriguez of the National Employment Law Project in Oakland, the bill's sponsor. Other supporters included civil rights groups, who said criminal record questions have a disproportionate effect on minorities.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered most state agencies in 2010 to stop asking job applicants about past crimes. AB218 writes his order into law and extends it to all state and local government employers.

Eight other states have similar laws, and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recommended lat year that private as well as public employers remove criminal records questions from job applications.

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