Oregon Employers Need to Prepare for “Ban the Box” Law
Effective January 1, 2016, Oregon will become the latest state to limit the ability of employers to ask job applicants about prior criminal histories.
HB 3025, signed by Gov. Kate Brown in July, prohibits most Oregon employers from excluding an individual from an initial job interview if, prior to that interview, the applicant is required to disclose a criminal conviction (either through a job application form or otherwise). If there is no initial interview, an employer is prohibited from requiring an applicant to disclose such information before making a conditional offer of employment.
The new law does not prohibit Oregon employers from considering criminal convictions during the hiring process, which can still be explored at an initial interview or after a conditional offer of employment has been made. It also does not prohibit employers from including criminal background histories as a part of a general background check, again as long as it is done either after an initial interview or a conditional employment offer.
As in many other areas of employment law, timing is everything.
There are limited exceptions to the law, including law enforcement agencies or employers in the criminal justice system, or where such inquiries are required by law.
It should be noted that compliance with this new law will be enforced by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, and not by private litigation.
To ensure compliance with these upcoming requirements, Oregon employers need to remove these types of questions from job application forms (both hard copies and online), and those involved in the job recruitment and interviewing processes should become familiar with these new restrictions.