- California Governor Jerry Brown signed various employment bills into law last week, including a "ban the box" law that takes effect Jan. 1. The legislation prohibits most employers with at least five employees from asking applicants about criminal conviction histories until after a conditional offer of employment has been made, according to law firm Fisher Phillips LLP. And if an employer later decides to revoke the offer based on an individual's criminal history, it must undertake a procedure called the "fair chance” process, the firm explains.
- The governor also signed a salary history ban, which also takes effect Jan. 1. That law prohibits private and public employers from seeking a candidate’s pay history, according to Fisher Phillips. If employers already have that information or an applicant volunteers it, they can’t base a new hire's pay on past earnings. Finally, the law also requires employer to give applicants pay scale information if they request it.
- The firm recommends that employers update their applications and train all staff involved in hiring on the new requirements.
California joins more than 150 other cities and states that have banned the box in some capacity, according to the National Employment Law Project. The state had previously adopted a similar law that applied only to public employers, but the new legislation extends those requirements to private employers.
The state's salary history ban is also part of a growing trend. At least 10 other states and cities have adopted similar bans, which aim to narrow the gender-pay gap.
Some of these bans, however, have met resistance. Philadelphia was the first U.S. city to pass a law prohibiting salary history requests, but a local business group sued and the city agreed to a temporary stay while the litigation is ongoing. Illinois also attempted to enact a ban but its governor vetoed the bill.