New Seattle employment law limits use of criminal history

On Nov. 1, a new employment law went into effect in the City of Seattle. The Seattle Job Assistance Ordinance (JAO) limits how employers can use criminal records for hiring and employment decisions for employees working within Seattle city limits.

According to the Seattle Office for Civil Rights, the law will create increased employment opportunities, which will “reduce recidivism, reduce racial disparities in the criminal justice system and strengthen our community.”

The new law:

-Prohibits categorical exclusions in job ads (e.g. Does not allow statements like, “Felons need not apply.”)

-Limits criminal history questions on job applications and criminal background checks until after an employer conducts an initial screening to eliminate unqualified applicants.

-Requires employers to have a legitimate business reason to deny a job based on a conviction record.

-Requires an opportunity for an applicant or employee to explain or correct criminal history information.
The law does not apply to jobs with unsupervised access to children under 16, individuals with developmental disabilities or vulnerable adults. (end)

For more information, call 206-684-4500, email OCR_criminalrecordsquestions@seattle.gov or visit http://www.seattle.gov/civilrights/criminalrecords.htm. SOCR’s services are free and impartial. Language and disability accommodations are available upon request.

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