16 Jan New California Employment Law Changes Hiring Practices
With the new year comes new legal realities for companies that work in California. Every year the California legislature passes new laws, many of which change employment laws throughout the state. This new year is no exception, and one law in particular should cause all companies in California to take a fresh look at their hiring practices.
Several years ago, in 2013, California passed a law that applied to government agencies and changed the hiring process. That bill, A.B. 218, made it illegal for government employers to require an applicant to “check” a box stating whether that applicant had a previous criminal conviction. Now that same law will apply to all employers in California.
Under a new law signed by the governor last year, it is now unlawful for an employer to ask a potential employee for background criminal conviction information. The new law makes it illegal to ask about prior convictions until a potential employee has a conditional offer of employment. This is a big change for most employers across the state.
The law does not make it illegal to gather any background information about criminal convictions. Once a conditional offer is made, the applicant can be asked about criminal convictions, and the offer withdrawn, in most cases. The new law outlines the process for withdrawing an offer because of a conviction.
When an offer of employment is withdrawn because of a criminal conviction, under the new law, an employer must go through certain steps. If an offer is withdrawn, the employer must notify the applicant, in writing, and provide the following:
- A notice of the conviction(s) which caused the offer to be withdrawn;
- A copy of the criminal conviction report(s); and
- An explanation that the applicant has a right to respond to the withdrawal.
Once that process is completed, the employer must take into account the employee’s explanation and details before making a final decision.
As you can see, this is a new and detailed process that completely changes the hiring procedures in California. The new law is being hailed by many as a way to improve the chances of employment for those who would otherwise be barred because of a criminal past. The new law does raise questions, however, about the suitability of these new hires.
Liability will become a big issue for employers going forward under this new law. One of the biggest concerns for companies is employer liability under the umbrella of negligent hiring. What will happen when an employee acts in a way that causes serious injury to another, and it can be argued that he or she should not have been employed in the first place? In many cases, a personal injury lawsuit can be sustained against a company under the theory that, given an employee’s criminal background, it was negligent for a company to give that employee certain responsibilities. These are issues your company will need to address going forward.
Your California Employment Law Team
As this and other new laws take effect, you will need the right legal team on your side, guiding you through any changes to your business practices. At the Royse Law Firm, our team of employment law experts is here to assist you. Contact us today.