On March 24, 2016, Austin became the latest city to approve the Fair Chance Hiring Ordinance also known as “Ban the Box” law. The law applies to employers with at least 15 employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year. Under the Ordinance, employers cannot request job applicants to disclose a criminal history until after making a conditional offer of employment. Employers are also not allowed to post job advertisements indicating that people that have been arrested or convicted of a crime will not be considered for a job position. Lastly, employers cannot refuse to consider employing a job applicant who submits an application because the applicant did not provide criminal history information before the individual received a conditional employment offer. If there is a “good faith belief” that the individual is unsuitable for the job position, employers must consider the following:
- the nature and gravity of the offense,
- the length of time passed sin the offense occurred, and
- the scope of the position for which the person is applying.
An individual who believes his or her rights were violated under the new law may file a complaint at the Equal Employment/Fair Housing Office.
To stay compliant, covered employers need to review and revise their employment applications and any job advertisements that request criminal history information. Penalties for noncompliance include a warning for first-time violations. If the employer fails to cure the violation, he or she may be liable for a civil penalty of $500.