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Pardoned or Annulled Convictions Not a Bar to Employment in Washington

By Michael Klazema on 4/14/2014

The state of Washington recently passed a bill relating to background checks for persons who have access to children or vulnerable adults. Senate bill 6095 amends the section of the law (Revised Code of Washington § 43.43.842) that deals with licensing requirements for agencies, facilities, and individuals who provide care and treatment to vulnerable adults, including nursing pools. Section 43.43.842 applies to applicants and employees in assisted living facilities or boarding homes, hospitals, and home care agencies, and other long-term care facilities.

As required by state law (RCW § 43.43.834), individuals who have unsupervised access to vulnerable adults must disclose in writing all crimes against children or other persons, all crimes relating to financial exploitation, and all crimes relating to drugs committed by the individual. The rules adopted under RCW § 43.43.842 permit a licensee to consider the criminal history of an applicant for employment when the applicant has one or more convictions for a past offense, and certain conditions apply. Senate bill 6095 expands the list of exceptions to include individuals exempted by the department of social and health services’ assessment review in 2002, and convictions or dispositions that have been pardoned, annulled, or subject to other equivalent procedure. 

Therefore, unless otherwise barred, applicants may be considered for employment if they have one or more convictions for a past offense and:

  1. The offense was a simple assault, assault in the fourth degree, or the same offense as it may be renamed, and three or more years have passed between the most recent conviction and the date of application for employment;
  2. The offense was prostitution, or the same offense as it may be renamed, and three or more years have passed between the most recent conviction and the date of application for employment;
  3. The offense was theft in the third degree, or the same offense as it may be renamed, and three or more years have passed between the most recent convictions and the date of application for employment;
  4. The offense was theft in the second degree, or the same offense as it may be renamed, and five or more years have passed between the most recent conviction and the date of the application for employment;
  5. The offense was forgery, or the same offense as it may be renewed, and five or more years have passed between the most recent conviction and the date of the application for employment;
  6. The department of social and health services reviewed the employee’s otherwise disqualifying criminal history through the department of social and health services’ background assessment review team process conducted in 2002, and determined that the employee could remain in a position covered by § 43.43.842; or
  7. The otherwise disqualifying conviction or disposition has been the subject of a pardon, annulment, or other equivalent procedure.

The amendments of Senate bill 6095 become effective June 12, 2014. 

Other states have similar laws that deal with pardoned or annulled conviction records. We are likely to see more states restrict employers’ access to and use of these criminal histories. This bill is a welcome restoration of employers’ discretion to make sound business judgments about criminal history. We will continue to monitor this subject and let you know of any changes to state or federal laws.

Senate Bill 6095 is available here: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/billdocs/2013-14/Pdf/Bills/Session%20Laws/Senate/6095-S.SL.pdf



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