San Francisco recently joined the ranks of “ban the box” jurisdictions that restrict the criminal record information a private employer can request. Others include Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Minnesota and Hawaii, and the cities of Philadelphia, PA, Buffalo, NY, Newark, NJ and Seattle, WA. The San Francisco ordinance will become operative on August 13, 2014. It applies to all employers located or doing business in San Francisco, that have 20 or more employees regardless of their location. However, the restrictions apply only to employment or prospective employment that is wholly or in substantial part within San Francisco city limits. The San Francisco ordinance is in some respects duplicative of other laws, though it is more restrictive and imposes additional obligations. San Francisco employers who are subject to this ordinance should review their job advertisements, employment applications, hiring policies and practices, and record retention programs to confirm they are in compliance. Given the patchwork of laws now in place and the anticipation that additional laws are likely to emerge, employers should consider taking a holistic approach in lieu of viewing this as involving only one jurisdiction or only the format of their employment application forms.

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