Oregon has instituted some restrictions on employers who wish to order a criminal background check as a condition of employment. A few municipalities have regulations that complement state-level law. Consider the following important restrictions placed on employers seeking a background check in Oregon.
While subject to some ban the box rules related to the timing of criminal history inquiries, employers in Oregon are generally permitted to ask for and consider arrest records if the arrest occurred within one calendar year from the date of the application. However, juvenile records, which are often expunged after the individual turns 18, are not permissible and may not be a part of an employer’s considerations.
Oregon allows employers to inquire into conviction records before a final job offer. Like arrest records, restrictions on expunged juvenile records apply with one exception. If the employer can demonstrate a genuine and compelling reason to consider a juvenile record, the state may grant an exception. Before ordering an Oregon background check, employers must take steps to inform the applicant or employee of the request.
Ban the Box
Since 2016, Oregon has used a state-wide "ban the box" statute that prohibits employers from asking about criminal history as an initial condition of application. To inquire, they must first grant an interview. Employers can ask the applicant to discuss any of the allowed types of criminal history if they provide the individual with an opportunity to discuss the matter in person. Exceptions apply, including for law enforcement positions and any job in which a conviction would mean disqualification under the law.
The City of Portland takes these requirements a step further with a municipal ban the box law that requires the extension of a conditional job offer before a background check. Companies with 6 employees or more and the city government are included in these rules. A business may cancel a job offer only if it determines an uncovered offense qualifies as job-related and if it occurred recently. Businesses that do not comply may be subject to civil penalties.
Expunged Criminal Records
Only expunged juvenile records are exempt under Oregon state law. Arrests or convictions that are under seal or have been dismissed may still require disclosure to an employer.
Oregon generally disallows employers from ordering credit reports or using information obtained from credit reports in employment determinations. However, there are some circumstances in which the state permits the use of credit history, such as a role with a banking institution or a position that involves the safety of the public. State law may grant other exemptions for specific job roles and scenarios. Applicants must be made aware of the intent to check their credit before ordering the report.