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San Francisco to Tighten Restrictions on the Use of Criminal History Information

Excerpted from, by Aubry R. Holland, Renee B. Phillips and Julie A. Totten
The use of criminal background checks when hiring employees has become even more limited in San Francisco. On August 13, 2014, the recently passed Fair Chance Ordinance (Ordinance) becomes operative requiring employers doing business in San Francisco and employing 20 or more workers, regardless of location, to limit the use of an applicant’s criminal history.
Employers are now barred from asking about or conducting a background check until the employer first determines whether the applicant meets the minimal requirements for any positions that are in whole, or in substantial part, within San Francisco. Criminal background information then may only be obtained after the first live interview (via telephone, videoconference, other technology, or in-person), or after a conditional offer of employment. This means that employment applications cannot inquire about any convictions without running afoul of the Ordinance.
Even after the first live interview, employers are still only permitted to ask about misdemeanor and felony convictions within the last seven years. Employers can never ask about
(1) arrests not leading to conviction,
(2) participation in a diversion program,
(3) convictions that have been expunged,
(4) juvenile offenses, or
(5) convictions that are more than seven years old.
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