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Does having a criminal record justify employment discrimination?

The law protects the rights of job applicants who have a criminal record, in accordance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

However, federal laws do allow employers to use criminal records as a basis for some employment decisions — a practice, which can easily snowball into categorically denying employment to applicants with a criminal history. For residents of California, new legislature is putting this employment discrimination to an end.

Ban the box

California's "Ban-the-Box" law is an amendment to the state’s Fair Housing and Employment Act (FEHA) that has made it illegal for employers to question a candidate's criminal record on an employment application. The law went into effect on January 1, 2018 and also prohibits employers from asking an applicant about his or her criminal record before making a conditional offer of employment.

For the one in three estimated California residents with a criminal record, this change may spark a light in the darkness that had fallen over a never-ending job search. Employers, on the other hand, may find that making an individualized assessment of each applicant’s fitness for the job helps fill a growing talent shortage, as today’s unemployment rate sinks under four percent.

If you know of an employer in California that hasn’t complied with the ban-the-box law since its enactment or has a policy of disqualifying applicants or employees with a criminal record, that employer could face a discrimination charge.

Talking with an attorney about your unique situation can help you better understand your rights and whether they’ve been violated.

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