New Legislation Prohibits New York City Employers From Inquiring About Applicants’ Salary History

What this is about:
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a new bill (Int. No. 1253-A) prohibiting private employers from inquiring about an applicant’s salary history during all stages of the employment process.

Effective date:
October 31, 2017

What is prohibited:
Once the law becomes effective, it will be an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer (which includes employment agency, or employee or agent thereof) to:

  • Inquire about the salary history (current and prior) of a job applicant
  • Rely on the salary history of an applicant in determining the salary, benefits or other compensation for such applicant during the hiring process, including the negotiation of a contract

“To inquire” means to communicate, in writing or otherwise, any question or statement to an applicant or an applicant’s employer (current, prior or agent thereof) or to conduct a search of publicly available records or reports for the purpose of obtaining an applicant’s salary history.

What is allowed:
An employer may, without inquiring about salary history, discuss the applicant’s salary, benefits and other compensation expectations. This includes, but is not limited to, unvested equity or deferred compensation that an applicant would forfeit by resigning from the current employer. Also, if an applicant voluntarily and without prompting discloses salary history, the employer may consider such information in determining salary, benefits and other compensation, and may verify the applicant’s disclosure.

Exceptions:
The law provides exceptions where federal, state or local law requires disclosure or verification of salary history for employment purposes, internal transfers or promotions, and public employee positions governed by a collective bargaining agreement.

Enforcement:
The New York City Commission on Human Rights, the agency charged with enforcing the NYC Human Rights Law, will be enforcing this law. Civil penalties of up to $125,000 for an unintentional violation, and up to $250,000 for a “willful, wanton or malicious act” may be imposed.

May 9th, 2017|Employment Decisions, Risk Management|

Additional Guidance and Forms Issued for City of Los Angeles’ Fair Chance Initiative for Hiring Ordinance

As reported in our previous alert, effective January 22, 2017, the Fair Chance Initiative for Hiring (“LAFCIH”) ordinance prohibits employers (with 10 or more employees) from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history until a conditional job offer has been extended and imposes significant compliance obligations. The Department of Public Works Bureau of Contract Administration (the “BCA” or the “Department”), which bears administrative responsibilities for the LAFCIH, in addition to its rules and regulations published In February, has now provided forms and further guidance to help covered employers (and city contractors/subcontractors) meet their compliance requirements.

The forms and guidance include the following:

It is recommended that all covered employers and city contractors/subcontractors review the materials provided by the BCA.  Penalties and fines for violations of the LAFCIH will be imposed starting July 1, 2017.

February 10th, 2017|Employment Decisions, FCRA, Legislation, Privacy, Risk Management|

New Guidance Regarding City of Los Angeles’ Fair Chance Initiative for Hiring Ordinance

 

 

What is this about:

As reported in our previous alert, effective January 22, 2017, the Fair Chance Initiative for Hiring (“LAFCIH”) ordinance prohibits employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history until a conditional job offer has been extended and imposes significant compliance obligations.

The Department of Public Works Bureau of Contract Administration, which bears administrative responsibilities for the LAFCIH, in addition to its rules and regulations (the “Regs”) to guide covered employers (and city contractors/subcontractors) in meeting compliance requirements published last month, has now posted an “individualized assessment and reassessment form.” It is unclear whether the Department expects employers to use this form as provided or whether modifications are permitted. Certain other items in the Regs also remain unclear, and the Department has yet to issue anticipated further guidance.

 

Notable amplifications and clarifications:

  1. “Applicant” means an individual who submits an application or other documentation for employment to an employer regardless of location.
  2. “Employee” means any individual who performs at least two hours of work on average each week within the geographic boundaries of the City for an employer. Average week is determined by the last four complete weeks before the position is advertised
  3. An individual who lives in the City and performs work for an employer from home, including telecommuting, is an employee.
  4. An individual who works from a home that is outside of the City is not an employee even if he/she works for a Los Angeles-based company, unless the individual also works at least two hours on average per week within the geographic boundaries of the City.
  5. The LAFCIH applies to employees regardless of an employer’s designation of an employee as an independent contractor, and labeling a worker as an independent contractor is not conclusive for the purpose of the LAFCIH.
 

Criminal history:

According to the Regs,

“A conviction shall include a plea, verdict, or finding of guilt regardless of whether sentence is imposed by the court. In the State of California, an employer is prohibited from asking about any arrest information, unless it results in a conviction, and otherwise specified.”

Note: the definition above cites California Labor Code §432.7(a)(1). The first sentence is correct; however, the second sentence is not, as that statute expressly allows inquiries about pending cases,stating that “nothing [in this section] shall prevent an employer from asking… about an arrest for which the employee or applicant is out on bail or on his or her own recognizance pending trial.”

Nevertheless, the Regs, in a section titled “Employer Assessment of Criminal History,” go on to state that “arrests cannot be considered in employment decisions.”

 

Other guidance items:

The Regs amplify other definitions and aim to explain the various employer requirements. This includes, but is not limited to: the application and interview procedure, assessment of criminal history, the “Fair Chance” process, notice and posting, record-keeping, enforcement and exceptions.

See above the above post for links regarding this new guidance.

February 9th, 2017|Employment Decisions, FCRA, Legislation, Privacy, Risk Management|

City of Los Angeles’ “Fair Chance Initiative for Hiring” goes into effect January 22, 2017

The City of Los Angeles passed the “Fair Chance Initiative for Hiring (LAFCIH),” a new “ban-the-box” legislation that goes into effect January 22, 2017, with monetary fines for non-compliance starting July 1, 2017. The LAFCIH applies to most private sector employers that (1) are located in or doing business in the City of Los Angeles; and (2) employ 10 or more people. The law covers both applicants and incumbent employees in virtually any type of employment situation.

The ordinance prohibits covered private employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history until a conditional offer of employment has been extended, and imposes significant compliance obligations, including a requirement that before making an adverse decision based on a criminal record, the employer “performs a written assessment that effectively links the specific aspects of the applicant’s criminal history with risks inherent in the duties of the employment position sought by the applicant.” At a minimum, the employer must consider factors identified by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in its 2012 Enforcement Guidance and any other factors that may be required by rules or guidelines promulgated by the city’s Department of Public Works, Bureau of Contract Administration [Department] which will be administering the LAFCIH.

The employer must then engage in a “fair chance process,” allowing the candidate to provide information or documentation regarding the accuracy of the criminal record or other information that the employer should consider, such as evidence of rehabilitation or other mitigating factors. The proposed position must be held open for at least five business days after the candidate has received the employer’s notification and assessment. If the candidate provides additional information or documentation, the employer is required to consider the new information and perform a written re-assessment.

Additionally, the LAFCIH provides that all covered employers include the following language in any advertisement or solicitation seeking applicants:

“The employer will consider for employment qualified applicants with criminal histories in a manner consistent with [the Los Angeles Fair Chance Initiative for Hiring].”

There is also a notice posting requirement, which must be in a conspicuous place at every workplace, job site, or other location in the City of Los Angeles under the employer’s control that is visited by applicants. Copies of the notice must be sent to each labor union or representative of workers that has a collective bargaining agreement or other agreement applicable to employees in Los Angeles.

Employers are required to maintain all records and documents related to an individual’s application for employment, including any written assessments and re-assessments for a period of three years after the receipt of the job application.

As with other “ban-the-box” legislation, the LAFCIH makes it unlawful for an employer to retaliate or otherwise take adverse action against an individual who has complained about the employer’s non-compliance or anticipated non-compliance; opposed any practice made unlawful by the ordinance; participated in any proceedings related to enforcement of the law, or otherwise sought to enforce or assert his/her rights under the LAFCIH.

The LAFCIH does not apply in the following circumstances: (1) when the employer is required by law to obtain information regarding an applicant’s criminal convictions; (2) when the applicant will be required to possess or use a firearm in the course of his/her employment; (3) when the applicant is prohibited by law from holding the position sought due to a conviction, regardless of whether the conviction has been expunged, sealed, eradicated, or dismissed; or (4) when the employer is prohibited by law from hiring an applicant who has been convicted of a crime.

With this new ordinance, Los Angeles joins the fast-growing list of localities (Austin, Baltimore, Buffalo, Chicago, Columbia (MO), District of Columbia, Montgomery County (MD), New York City, Philadelphia, Portland, Prince George’s County (MD), Rochester, San Francisco, and Seattle) and nine states (Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont) that have enacted similar laws for private employers.

Companies covered by the LAFCIH should immediately review and revise, if applicable, their applications, offer letters, background check forms, and notices, and ensure that their employment screening policies incorporate the ordinance’s pre-adverse and adverse action procedures and documentation, and record keeping requirements.

Since “ban-the-box” legislation is gaining momentum at a rapid pace, all nationwide employers may want to conduct an assessment of their employment screening practices to ensure their compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

January 10th, 2017|Employment Decisions, Legislation, Risk Management|

New Employment Background Screening Legislation for 2017

“Ban-the-box”

“Ban-the-box” measures, which generally prohibit employers from inquiring about a candidate’s criminal history (including performing background checks) until later in the hiring process, and impose significant compliance requirements, will soon be the norm rather than an exception. The city of Los Angeles, with its new Fair Chance Initiative for Hiring ordinance, is just the latest to join the fast growing list of localities (Austin, Baltimore, Buffalo, Chicago, Columbia – MO, District of Columbia, Montgomery County – MD, New York City, Philadelphia, Portland, Prince George’s County – MD, Rochester, San Francisco, and Seattle) and nine states (Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont (effective July 1, 2017)) that have enacted similar laws  for private employers.

Juvenile criminal record checks   

Effective January 1, 2017, AB 1843 amends Section 432.7 of the Labor Code to prohibit California employers from inquiring about and considering information regarding “an arrest, detention, process, diversion, supervision, adjudication, or court disposition” that occurred while the candidate was subject to the process and jurisdiction of a juvenile court. Certain employment situations are exempted from these requirements, such as a prohibition by law from hiring an applicant who has been convicted of a crime.

Criminal background checks for transportation network companies

Effective January 1, 2017, under California’s AB 1289, a transportation network company (“TNC”) such as Uber, is required to perform criminal background checks on all drivers. The bill also prohibits a TNC from contracting with a driver who is registered on the DOJ’s national sex offender website or has been convicted of specified felonies, or misdemeanor assault or battery, domestic violence, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol within the past seven years.

Credit check restrictions

The District of Columbia is the latest jurisdiction to pass a law that prohibits private employers, with certain exceptions, from conducting credit checks on job applicants. The Fair Credit in Employment Amendment Act, which amends the Human Rights Act of 1977 to include credit information as a protected trait will take effect following approval by Mayor Bowser and other enactment actions. Similar to the laws already in effect in ten states for private employers (California – AB 22; Colorado – The Employment Opportunity Act; Connecticut  – SB 361; Hawaii – HB 31 SD1; Illinois  – HB 4658; Maryland  HB 87;  Nevada – SB 127; Oregon – SB 1045; Vermont – Act No. 154 (S. 95); Washington – RCW 19.182 and  RCW 19.182.020) and at least two cities (New York City – Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment Act and Philadelphia – Bill No. 160072), it restricts checking an applicant’s credit history except in circumstances where a credit screen is justified by the position’s responsibilities or is required by law.

Wage history inquiries

Pay equity initiatives include California’s AB 1676, which effective January 1, 2017, prohibits employers from using a candidate’s prior salary as the sole basis to justify a pay disparity. California, however, has decided not to follow the Massachusetts provisions (described below) of banning inquiries regarding a candidate’s wage history.

Massachusetts was the first jurisdiction to pass a law that prevents employers from asking job candidates about their salary history. The commonwealth’s Pay Equity Act goes into effect July 1, 2018, and in addition to equal pay requirements, it makes it illegal, among other things, to: (1) require that an employee refrain from inquiring about, discussing or disclosing information about his or her wages, or any other employee’s wages; (2) screen job applicants based on their wages; (3) request or require a candidate to disclose prior wages or salary history; or (4) seek the salary history from a current or former employer, unless he/she provides express written consent, and an offer of employment, including proposed compensation, has been extended.

Effective May 23, 2017, the city of Philadelphia with its Fair Practices Ordinance: Protections Against Unlawful Discrimination will make it unlawful for employers to inquire about a candidate’s wage history during the hiring process, unless a federal, state, or local law specifically authorizes the disclosure or verification of wage information.

Drug testing – marijuana

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCLS), 31 states/jurisdictions (Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington) have public medical marijuana and cannabis programs, while several states (Alaska – Ballot Measure No. 2; California – Proposition 64; Colorado – Amendment 64; District of Columbia – Initiative 71; Maine – Question 1; Massachusetts  – Question 4;  Nevada – Question 2; Oregon – Measure 91; and Washington Initiative 502) have passed laws allowing for the recreational use of marijuana by adults.  Since the legal landscape for marijuana use is changing rapidly, employers should review and update their substance abuse policies, including drug-testing. Notably, marijuana remains a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

Work authorization verification

California’s SB 1001 is a revival of the 2015  AB 1065, which effective January 1, 2017, makes it unlawful for employers to:

  1. Request additional or different documents than those required under federal law to verify that an individual is not an unauthorized immigrant
  2. Refuse to accept documents provided by the applicant that reasonably appear to be genuine
  3. Refuse to honor documents or work authorization based on specific status or term that accompanies the authorization to work
  4. Attempt to reinvestigate or re-verify a candidate’s authorization to work using an unfair immigration-related practice.

Effective January 1, 2017, Tennessee’s SB 1965 requires that companies with 50 or more employees use the federal E-Verify program to confirm new employees’ work authorization.

As a reminder, starting January 22, 2017, all employers must use the new Form I-9, which is dated November 14, 2016 (the edition date is on the bottom of the form).  Employers that fail to use the new form may be subject to civil penalties.

January 2nd, 2017|Employment Decisions, FCRA, Legislation, Risk Management|

What’s up with California’s new E-Verify law?

The new law, AB 622, which went into effect January 1, 2016, adds Labor Code section 2814 to strengthen current California prohibitions on employers’ use of E-Verify and other electronic employment eligibility verification systems.  Labor Code section 2811 (enacted in 2011) already prohibits private employers from using E-Verify or such other verification systems, unless required by federal law or as a condition of receiving federal funds.

The amended Labor Code section 2814 expands the definition of an unlawful employment practice to prohibit an employer or any other person or entity from using the E-Verify system at a time or in a manner not required by a specified federal law or not authorized by a federal agency memorandum of understanding to check the employment authorization status of an existing employee, or an applicant who has not received an offer of employment, except as required by federal law or as a condition of receiving federal funds. The new law also requires an employer that uses the E-Verify system to provide to the affected employee any notification issued by the Social Security Administration or the United States Department of Homeland Security containing information specific to his/her E-Verify case or any tentative non-confirmation notice. Employers will now face a civil penalty of $10,000 for each violation of these provisions.

  • Read the text of AB 622
  • Read guidance published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on conducting internal audits regarding Form I-9 compliance
February 23rd, 2016|Employment Decisions|

Employers in New Jersey may face tougher restrictions for employment credit checks

Assembly Bill A2298 which prohibits employment discrimination against a current or prospective employee based on information in a credit report advanced to a second reading on December 14, 2015. The proposed legislation prohibits an employer from requiring a credit check on a current or prospective employee, unless the employer is required to do so by law, or reasonably believes that an employee has engaged in a specific activity that is financial in nature and constitutes a violation of law.  The bill does not prevent an employer from performing a credit inquiry or taking action if credit history is a bona fide occupational qualification of a particular position or certain employment classifications. An earlier version of the legislation passed the Senate in May 2012 in a 22-16 vote but was never voted on in the full Assembly.

December 22nd, 2015|Employment Decisions, Legislation|

Philadelphia expands its ban-the-box ordinance

On December 15, 2015, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed Bill 150815 expanding the city’s ban-the-box legislation. The new ordinance, which goes into effect on or about March 14, 2016, amends Chapter 9-3500 of the Philadelphia Code entitled “Fair Criminal Records Screening Standards,” by modifying certain definitions and adding additional requirements regarding the screening of job and license applicants for criminal history. With limited exceptions, the new ordinance applies to employers having any employees within the city of Philadelphia. (The prior ordinance covered employers with 10 or more employees.)  The highlights of the law include:

  • questions about criminal records must be removed from the job application–the ordinance specifically notes that multi-state applications may not include the question with a disclaimer for Philadelphia applicants not to answer;
  • employment materials cannot contain questions or refer to  the applicant’s willingness to submit to a background check before a conditional offer has been extended;
  • criminal record inquiries must be postponed until after a conditional offer has been made;
  • notice of the background check must state that any consideration of the results will be tailored to the job;
  • employment decisions can only include a conviction that occurred less than seven years ago–employers may add to the seven year period any time of actual incarceration served because of the offense;
  • screening process must include individualized assessment for each applicant;
  • if the applicant is rejected based on a criminal conviction, he/she must be advised of the specific reason and provided with a copy of the record.
December 22nd, 2015|Educational Series, Employment Decisions|

Importance of background checks in employment decisions

Performing a background check as part of the hiring process, promotion, or retention in today’s world is essential. Stakeholders expect it. Regulators mandate it.

In a turbulent economy, the pool of job candidates is greater than ever and misrepresentations abound. For many firms, once an offer of employment has been extended, it is common practice to check the candidate’s background. Depending on the risk level of the position and its requirements, background checks can run the gamut from reference calls done internally, to using a consumer reporting agency to perform comprehensive searches to determine the existence of potentially negative information, such as criminal matters, civil litigation, bankruptcy filings, tax liens, judgments, regulatory actions, driving violations, and adverse media publicity, and to verify academic, licensing, employment and other professional qualifications and claims.

The law is clear–an employer who hires or retains a dangerous or incompetent employee can be held liable for that employee’s wrongful acts, if committed in the course and scope of his or her employment. The theories of negligent hiring and retention go even further–someone who is injured by an employee can sue the employer even if the employee’s conduct is outside of the employer’s control. For instance, one court found the owner of an apartment complex liable for a handyman’s assault of a tenant after working hours. The liability existed because the owner failed to screen the handyman’s background, which included a long list of violent crimes.

Underpinning the negligent hiring and retention theories is the negligence of the employer—that is, the employer knew or should have known the employee was unfit for the job, posed an unreasonable risk of harm to others, and did nothing about it. Virtually every state recognizes these theories as causes of action, or if not, has a similar legal theory. One of the best ways to reduce the risk of negligent hiring and retention liability is to perform adequate background checks as part of the hiring process and in connection with promotions or retention.

A well-designed background screening program that is compliant with applicable laws and regulations makes good business sense, as an individual’s prior history is often a predictor of future performance, workplace behavior and cultural fit. Various studies have shown that the cost of a bad hire is one to five times the salary of the job in question, considering the direct and indirect cost involved in recruiting, hiring, training, development, administration, management, and potential litigation, as well as the wasted wages and benefits. Comprehensive background screening can help identify individuals who may have a propensity for violence, theft, fraud, dishonesty, substance abuse, absenteeism, and other misconduct, and at the same time, find the candidates that can make the employer more successful.

Many employers are also required by government regulation, their insurance carriers, and/or their clients to conduct background checks. A comprehensive background check is clearly worth the investment. Employers never want to say “we should have known,” as an uninformed employment decision can result in significant financial losses and quickly tarnish an employer’s reputation.

November 5th, 2015|Educational Series, Employment Decisions|

Oregon bans the box

Oregon became the eighth state to ban the box after the state legislature passed House Bill 3025 and Governor Kate Brown signed the bill into law on June 26.

Beginning January 1, 2016, employers in the state may not require an applicant to disclose a criminal conviction on an employment application or at any time prior to an initial interview. If no interview takes place, disclosure may not be mandated prior to a conditional offer of employment. That means employers are only permitted to ask about criminal convictions during an interview or after it occurs.

Employers must notify an applicant that they will be subject to a criminal background check or required to disclose any convictions but “nothing in [the law] prevents an employer from considering an applicant’s conviction history when making a hiring decision” as long as the employer times the questions in compliance with the statute.

HB 3025 applies to all employers in the state with just four exceptions. Law enforcement agencies, employers in the criminal justice system, and employers seeking “a nonemployee volunteer” are all exempt. Positions where federal, state, or local law requires consideration of an applicant’s criminal history are also not covered by the statute.

Tasked with enforcement: the Oregon Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries. The law did not create a private right of action allowing individuals to file suit. Importantly for employers in the state, the legislature elected not to preempt municipalities from enacting their own stricter version of the law. For example, the Portland City Council is currently considering its own take on a “ban the box” law that would apply to employers in the city.

Oregon’s passage of the measure adds the state to the fast growing list of jurisdictions to ban the box. There are over 100 cities and counties, and 18 states representing nearly every region of the country that have adopted the policies — California (2013, 2010), Colorado (2012), Connecticut (2010), Delaware (2014), Georgia (2015), Hawaii (1998), Illinois (2014, 2013), Maryland (2013), Massachusetts (2010), Minnesota (2013, 2009), Nebraska (2014), New Jersey (2014), New Mexico (2010), Ohio (2015), Oregon (2015), Rhode Island (2013), Vermont (2015), and Virginia (2015). Six states—Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Rhode Island—have removed the conviction history question on job applications for private employers, which advocates embrace as the next step in the evolution of these policies.

Federally, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) endorsed removing the conviction question from the job application as a best practice in its 2012 guidance making clear that federal civil rights laws regulate employment decisions based on arrests and convictions.

Employers should keep a close eye on their local authorities to ensure continuing compliance as the list of jurisdictions continues to grow.

Read House Bill 3025.

 

September 23rd, 2015|Employment Decisions|