Washington State Bans the Box

March 19th, 2018

On March 13, 2018, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee signed HB 1298, the Washington “Fair Chance Act.” The Fair Chance Act will prohibit employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history until after the employer determines that the applicant is otherwise qualified for the position. The new law will be effective on June 6, 2018. Please see below for a summary of this new law.

The law will make it an unlawful practice for an employer to do the following:

  • Inquire in any manner about an applicant’s criminal history until it has been determined that the individual is qualified for the position.
  • Advertise an employment opportunity that excludes people with criminal records from applying.
  • Implement any policy that automatically excludes people with a criminal record prior to determining if the person is qualified.

The law does not apply to the following:

  • An employer hiring a person who will have access to children under eighteen, a vulnerable adult or any vulnerable person.
  • A financial institution who is permitted or required by law to inquire or consider an applicant or employee’s criminal history.
  • Employment by a Washington State criminal justice or law enforcement agency.
  • An employer seeking a nonemployee volunteer.
  • Any entity required to comply with the rules of a self-regulatory agency as defined by the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934.

The law defines an employer as including public agencies, private individuals, businesses and corporations, contractors, temporary staffing agencies, training and apprenticeship programs, and job placement, referral and employment agencies.

The new Fair Chance Act does not have an impact on existing or new laws that have or may be passed by local governments that are more restrictive to employers and provide applicants with additional protections. The attorney general will initially attempt to educate violators, then giving warnings and if violations continue with legal action, and can result in monetary fines of $750 for a second violation and up to $1000 for each subsequent violation.

The full text of the ordinance can be found here.

The information contained herein is for informational purposes only. Clients are encouraged to consult with their legal counsel on the impact of this new law. Sterling Talent Solutions is not a law firm, and none of the information contained in this notice is intended as legal advice.

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.