Washington state passes “Ban the Box” law
On June 6, 2018, Washington state’s Ban-the-Box law takes effect. This follows a recent trend of state ban-the-box laws being passed, as Washington now joins 10 other states and over 100 municipalities with Ban the Box laws (including Seattle and Spokane, WA, which already had laws in effect).
The law, known as the “Washington Fair Chance Act” (HB 1298), requires employers to wait until they have determined an applicant’s suitability for a position before inquiring about an applicant’s criminal record or taking any steps to obtain information about the applicant’s criminal history. This includes pre-employment background screening as well as other methods, such as inquiring orally or in writing.
There are, however, some exclusions for applicants working in childcare, elder care, financial institutions, law enforcement agencies, and certain other roles.
Violations of the Washington Fair Chance Act can incur a warning for the first violation, penalties of up to $750 for the second violation, and up to $1,000 for each violation following that.
If you hire candidates in Washington state, make sure to consult with your legal counsel on how best to comply with HB 1298, including the removal of criminal history questions and statements from job descriptions and applications, and training those involved in the interview process on questions and practices that violate Ban-the-Box laws.
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