Ban on Job Applicant Arrest Records

Image courtesy of Flickr/Victor

Washington, D.C., will soon become the 14th jurisdiction to pass a law prohibiting employers from asking job applicants whether they have ever been arrested. The District will join California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nebraska, Minnesota, Illinois, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Jersey, as well as more than 60 cities and counties nationwide.

The D.C. law — enacted July 24 and effective following a 30-day Congressional review — covers public and private employers employing more than 10 employees from inquiring about, or requiring an applicant to disclose, an arrest or a criminal accusation that did not result in a conviction or that is not currently pending. Additionally, an employer may not obtain such information through application forms, interviews or criminal history checks. 

However, information about criminal convictions after a condition offer of employment may be obtained. Nonetheless, the employer may only withdraw the conditional offer for a “legitimate business reason,” taking into account the facts of the job position and the conviction.

IMPACT: Covered employers should review their applications and hiring policies to remove any questions regarding the applicant’s arrests and criminal accusations not leading to convictions consistent with applicable state or local law.  Employers should also consider whether individuals with criminal convictions may be excluded from employment opportunities based on specific needs and risks.