San Francisco Amends Fair Chance Ordinance, Adds Posting Requirement

By Kelsey Basten

Published on June 12, 2018

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed an amendment to the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance (FCO) April 3, 2018. Originally passed in February 2014, the FCO’s latest amendment takes effect Oct. 1, 2018.

The amendment changes when an employer can ask applicants about criminal convictions. Under the new law, employers, contractors, subcontractors and housing providers are prohibited from inquiring about, requiring disclosure of or basing employment and housing decisions on prior criminal behavior convictions until after a conditional offer of employment or housing.

In addition, the FCO amendment now prohibits employers, contractors, subcontractors and housing providers from inquiring about, requiring disclosure of or basing employment (or housing) decisions on a conviction for a decriminalized offense. For example, this includes convictions for the non-commercial use and cultivation of cannabis.

Under the new amendment, the law is applicable for employers located or doing business with five or more employees located anywhere.  The previous law applied to employers of 20 or more employees.

Fines are now assessed for the first employer violation of the law, and fines for subsequent violations have increased significantly:

First Violation $500
Second Violation $1,000
Each Additional Violation $2,000

If multiple employees are impacted by the same violation, the fees will apply per employee. These penalties will be paid to the impacted employees.

Prior to the amendment, the San Francisco city attorney was the only authority who could sue an employer for a violation. Now, any employee or applicant whose rights have been violated has the right to sue.

Covered employers must display the Fair Chance Ordinance posting in employee work areas.

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