It may be time to review your company’s employment application and hiring process. The common “Have You Ever Been Convicted of a Felony?” question on employment applications will soon be a thing of the past for many California state and local agencies and private sector employers hiring or recruiting applicants to work within the City and County of San Francisco.

Effective July 1, 2014, state and local government agencies will no longer be permitted to ask a job applicant to disclose, in writing or verbally, if they have been convicted of a crime. The agency must first determine that the applicant meets the minimum qualification standards for the position before asking about criminal conviction history. Limited exceptions are provided for positions for which the agency is required by law to conduct a conviction history background check or  for persons working for a criminal justice agency.

Much broader in scope are the restrictions adopted by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. The “Fair Chance Ordinance” becomes effective August 13, 2014 and, among other things, prohibits employers from inquiring about criminal conviction history on employment applications and before a first interview or conditional job offer. The Fair Chance Ordinance also mandates pre-adverse action notice procedures and requires notices on advertisements and solicitations “that are reasonable likely to reach persons that are reasonably likely” to seek employment in San Francisco. In the event an applicant has a criminal conviction history, the employer must conduct an individualized assessment of the individual’s eligibility for employment considering only convictions that are directly related, as defined, the time elapsed since the conviction, any evidence of inaccuracy and evidence of rehabilitation or other mitigating measures. The Fair Chance Ordinance also requires employers to post a notice developed by the city. San Francisco employers covered by a collective bargaining agreement must also send this notice to each labor union.