Connecticut is the most recent state in the nation to implement statewide legislation prohibiting employers from making inquiries into an applicant’s criminal history at the onset of the employment process, except under certain circumstances.
Governor Dannel Malloy signed “An Act Concerning Fair Chance Employment,” Public Act No. 16-83, on June 1, 2016. Employers should review their job applications to ensure compliance by the January 1, 2017, effective date.
Employers still may make criminal background inquiries in Connecticut, but the timing of such inquiries now shifts to later in the hiring process after the initial employment application, such as during the interview process or contingent upon an offer. Additionally, Connecticut’s prior restraints on erased record inquiries remain in effect.
Under the law, employers may inquire into an applicant’s criminal background when required under state or federal law, or when the job requires a security or fidelity bond or equivalent bond.
Any employers found in violation of the law will be subject to a $300 penalty for each violation.
- Revise initial employment application materials no later than January 1, 2017, to remove all inquiries regarding an applicant’s prior arrests, criminal charges, or convictions.
- Make sure key employees in the hiring process are educated about the new provision.
- Check local city ordinances. For instance, certain municipalities, such as Hartford and New Haven in Connecticut, prohibit private employers who are vendors to the cities from conducting criminal background checks prior to making conditional offers of employment, among other limitations.
- For multi-state employers, look for similar provisions in other jurisdictions. An increasing number of states and local jurisdictions have imposed restrictions on the timing of criminal background inquiries, whether for public agencies, city vendors, or all employers. Understand how ban the box laws of other jurisdictions may affect the hiring process, including online applications and advertisements.
- Remember that background checks must still be conducted in a non-discriminatory fashion. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission likely will scrutinize background check procedures for disparate impact based on protected class status, in particular, based on race and national origin. Moreover, some jurisdictions limit employers’ right to use criminal background information or require employers to follow certain procedures when using such information.