Atlanta Amends Anti-Discrimination Ordinance to Include Criminal History

December 13th, 2022 | Sterling

On October 17, 2022, The Atlanta City Council approved new ordinance 22-O-1748 which amends its current anti-discrimination code, City of Atlanta Code of Ordinances Chapter 94 (Human Relations), by expanding protections to, among other things, an individual’s criminal history. The new law impacts private employers and employment agencies and was effective immediately upon approval.

The new law regarding criminal history discrimination contains several changes to the existing law. First the new ordinance expands the definition of “Discrimination or discriminatory practice or act” by adding criminal history to the already existing list of different types of prohibited discrimination. Next it, in general, makes it an unlawful employment practice to discriminate based on the criminal history of a job applicant or current employee. The new law also applies to employment agency practices for failing or refusing to refer an individual for employment based on their criminal history status. Next the law prohibits the practice of “printing or publication of notices or advertisements indicated prohibited preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination” relating to employment based on criminal history status. Last the new ordinance indicates that any adverse employment decision based on criminal history must not be considered a violation of the law if the criminal history is related to the position’s responsibilities with the following four considerations:

  1. whether the person committed the offense.
  2. the nature and gravity of the offense
  3. the amount of time since the offense, and
  4. the nature of the job

These four factors for consideration by the employer are closely aligned with the enforcement guidance issued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2012 on consideration of criminal records in employment. Finally, the new law indicates that it does not prohibit an employer from making adverse employment decisions based on criminal history where certain convictions or violations are a barrier to employment of job positions under federal or state law, including but not limited to positions involving working with children and positions in law enforcement.

Employers should review their hiring policies and programs when considering the new law. Employers should also consult with their legal counsel when considering updating their background screening and hiring policies and programs.

The full text of the amended ordinance can be found HERE

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