New WA State Legislation: Employers and Ban-the-Box

On March 13, 2018, Governor Jay Inslee signed into law the Washington Fair Chance Act (WFCA) .  This legislation is effective June 6, 2018 and will restrict employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal background history before they are deemed “otherwise qualified” for a position.

We recommend you take some time to look over the new legislation to evaluate how it may affect your hiring process.

This legislation includes “public agencies, private individuals, businesses and corporations, contractors, temporary staffing agencies, training and apprenticeship programs, and job placement, referral, and employment agencies.”

Until an applicant is deemed “otherwise qualified” for a position, Washington State employers are prohibited from:

  • Including any question on any application for employment, inquire either orally or in writing, receive information through a criminal history background check, or otherwise obtain information about an applicant's criminal record
  • Advertising employment openings in a way that excludes people with criminal records from applying
  • Implementing any policy or practice that automatically or categorically excludes individuals with a criminal record from consideration prior to an initial determination that the applicant is otherwise qualified for the position

The following are exempt from this legislation:

  • Any employer hiring a person who will or may have unsupervised access to children under the age of eighteen, a vulnerable adult as defined in chapter 74.34 RCW, or a vulnerable person as defined in RCW 9.96A.060; Employers required or permitted by federal or state law to inquire into an employee’s criminal record
  • Any employer, including a financial institution, who is expressly permitted or required under any federal or state law to inquire into, consider, or rely on information about an applicant's or employee's criminal record for employment purposes
  • Employment by a general or limited authority Washington law enforcement agency as defined in RCW 10.93.020 or by a criminal justice agency as defined in RCW 10.97.030(5)(b)
  • An employer seeking a nonemployee volunteer; or
  • Any entity required to comply with the rules or regulations of a self-regulatory organization, as defined in section 3(a)(26) of  the securities and exchange act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. 78c(a)(26).

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