On October 10, 2013, California joined the growing list of states with expanded protections for individuals with prior criminal records when Governor Jerry Brown approved a bill (SB 530) amending the California Labor Code.Effective January 1, 2014, SB 530 amends Labor Code section 432.7 to include an additional prohibition for public and private employers related to pre-employment inquiries, and adds section 4852.22 to the Penal Code shortening the waiting period to receive a Certificate of Rehabilitation. Governor Brown also signed AB 218, which, effective July 1, 2014, will bar public sector employers from asking about criminal records on employment applications (a so-called “ban the box” law). The number of state and local laws affording employment-related protections to ex-offenders has grown and, in all likelihood, will continue to do so. Now is an excellent time for local employers and multi-state employers that use a nationwide form of job application to assess thoroughly whether their job application, including questions about prior criminal records, complies with state and local laws where the employer operates and hires. Employers should be mindful of the various laws that relate to the background check process and when using a third-party screening firm to obtain background information on applicants or existing employees, employers must follow the requirements of the FCRA.

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