Spokane City Washington Bans the Box

May 2nd, 2018 | Sterling

On November 27th, 2017 The Spokane City Council approved Ordinance C-35564, which will prohibit employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history prior to an interview or conditional offer. The ordinance will become effective in July of 2018, but will not impose citations or fines for violations until after January of 2019. Please see below for a summary of the new ordinance.

The ordinance will make it an unlawful practice for an employer to do the following;

  • Advertise an employment opening that excludes people with arrest or conviction histories from applying.
  • Inquire about an applicant’s criminal history on an application, orally or through a background check prior to an interview or conditional offer of employment.
  • Disseminate an applicant or employee’s arrest or conviction record except as required or otherwise allowed by law.
  • Disqualify an applicant prior to an in-person, telephone or video interview solely because of a prior arrest or conviction unless the conviction is related to the duties of the job or is allowed by the ordinance.
  • Disqualify an applicant for failure to disclose a criminal record prior to initially determining the applicant is qualified for the position.

The ordinance does not apply to the following:

  • Employers hiring an employee who will have unsupervised access to children under the age of 18, a vulnerable adult as defined by RCW 74.34.020(21), or a vulnerable person as defined in RCW 9.96A.060
  • Employers who are expressly permitted or required under any federal or Washington state law to inquire, or consider information about an applicant’s arrest or conviction record
  • Any General Authority Washington law enforcement agency as defined in RCW10.93.020(1)
  • Any instance where criminal background checks are specifically permitted or required under state or federal law

The law does not prohibit an employer from inquiring or performing a background check about an applicant’s criminal conviction or arrest record, and considering the information during an in-person interview, telephonic, or video interview or after the conclusion of a job interview or after a conditional offer of employment.  The definition of employer includes any individual, partnership, association, corporation, business trust, contractor, temporary staffing agency, training and apprenticeship program, job placement, referral and employment agency, or any person acting in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee. Employment includes individual occupation, vocation, job, or work for pay, including temporary or seasonal work, and work through the services of a temporary or employment agency.

The full text of the ordinance can be found here http://www.nelp.org/content/uploads/Spokane-City-Ordinance-2017-executed.pdf

The information contained herein is for informational purposes only. Clients are encouraged to consult with their legal counsel on the impact of this new law. Sterling is not a law firm, and none of the information contained in this notice is intended as legal advice.

Sterling is not a law firm. This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.