Washington State Implements New Ban-the-Box Law

By Kelsey Basten

Published on April 10, 2018

On March 13, 2018, Washington signed a new “Ban-the-Box” bill into law. The new Washington Fair Chance Act starts on June 7, 2018. The law states that public and private employers will be prohibited from asking job applicants about arrests or convictions until after the applicant is determined otherwise qualified or the position.

According to the law, employers may no longer:

  1. Ask or obtain information about a job applicant’s criminal record, both orally and in writing, until after determining the applicant qualified for the position.
  2. Advertise job openings that exclude people with criminal records from applying. For example, employers may not state “no felons” or “no criminal background” under the job’s requirements.
  3. Implement policies or practices that exclude applicants with a criminal record from consideration prior to disclosure.

The Fair Chance Act does not apply to:

  • Any job applicant who will or may have unsupervised responsibility for children under 18 years old, a vulnerable adult or person in the position they are applying for.
  • Any employers hiring for a financial institution or other institution permitted or required under federal or state law to inquire about the applicant’s criminal record
  • Employers seeking volunteers
  • Employers of criminal justice and law enforcement agencies

The new law does not preempt any local labor laws. Therefore, employers in cities or counties with current ban-the-box laws must adhere to all local labor law requirements as well.

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