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May Compliance Review & Legislative Updates

By Michael Klazema on 5/24/2018

Among the many issues debated each year in legislatures around the country, employment concerns are often frequently at the top of the list. 2018 has seen states considering everything from ban the box laws to new efforts to combat employment discrimination. Here are some of the most notable recent developments.

The California Senate is moving forward with SB1412, an act to provide clarity to the state's rules prohibiting employers from requiring applicants to disclose information on expunged and sealed criminal records. Certain federal and California state laws mandate some job roles, such as working with children, must not be filled by individuals with a history that contains certain types of convictions. 

SB1412 would allow employers hiring for such positions to inquire into expunged or sealed records if they would reveal a disqualifying conviction. As of May 8, the bill resides in the appropriations committee and looks to be headed to a full vote. 

Also in California, Senate Bill 393 recently took effect, broadening the state's program for expunging arrests not leading to convictions. While carving out exceptions (for example, a murder charge cannot be expunged), the law aims to make it easier for individuals to escape the stigma of an arrest on their record. Known as CARE, the law provides a clear pathway for applicants to request consideration for expungement.

Several states introduced a new round of ban the box legislation, including Idaho, Florida, and Iowa. So far, each of these efforts has stalled in committee and none have made it to a full legislative vote. Michigan's legislature has chosen to enact Senate Bill 353, colloquially known as the "un-ban the box law”. Superseding local authority, the state now prohibits local municipalities from restricting what businesses ask on employment applications. Counties can no longer require businesses to include mandatory statements or to exclude questions about criminal history. 

Six states have taken up the fight against pay discrimination to varying degrees of success. Leading the way is New York with Assembly Bill 4969, the Fair Pay Act. Currently in committee, the law would make it illegal to use the payment of differing wage levels to discriminate based on race or sex. Other bills under consideration are also aimed at combating the gender pay gap and at reducing unfair practices relating to wage disclosures. Typically, if an employer wishes to know about an applicant's prior salary, they must ask directly; this type of info would not be included in an employment verification service.

Rhode Island, Louisiana, Illinois, and Hawaii all have bills before their legislatures with the intent of banning requirements that applicants disclose wages from previous employers. Louisiana's SB 149 was voted down, but efforts in other states to enforce wage secrecy and limit an employer's ability to uncover historical wage data remain underway.

As committee hearings continue and legislative sessions approach their conclusion, it remains to be seen which of these efforts will become law. However, they will likely not be the last of the year's developments in employment law, and business owners should remain engaged with the compliance process. backgroundchecks.com stays up to date on all the latest changes to state and federal law to provide effective criminal background check services for every client. 


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