Oregon has passed a new law that prohibits most private employers from considering a job applicant’s conviction history prior to conducting an initial job interview. The goal of the law is to allow those with past convictions a chance to explain their situation rather than be automatically removed from consideration for a job. Under the new law, employers cannot require applicants to disclose criminal convictions on a job application. Employers can, however, ask about and consider an applicant’s conviction history before making a final hiring decision, as long as an interview is conducted. If no interview is conducted, then an employer cannot inquire about criminal convictions until after a conditional offer of employment is made. The new law does not apply to law enforcement agencies, employers in the criminal justice system, employers seeking non-employee volunteers, and others who are required by federal, state, or local law to consider criminal history. The law goes into effect January 1, 2016.
Employers hiring in Oregon, or one of the many other states with “ban the box” legislation, should review current employment and hiring practices and, where necessary, make the following changes to comply with the law.
There is no question that this area of employment law is quickly evolving; employers need to pay close attention as more states enact versions of “ban-the-box” laws throughout the country.