City of Richmond, CA:“Ban the Box” Ordinance
If you are applying to a job with a company located or doing business in the City of Richmond, read this!
What is the City of Richmond’s local “ban the box” ordinance?
It is a law (a city ordinance) that prevents certain types of employers—all contractors and subcontractors getting money from the City of Richmond, with at 10 or more full-time employees—from asking about criminal convictions in the initial job application.
What does the ordinance require/prohibit?
The Richmond “Ban the Box” law prohibits these types of employers (city-paid contractors and subcontractors) from asking any questions regarding prior criminal convictions on any printed or online employment application forms. The ordinance prohibits employers from making “any inquiry into an applicant’s conviction history.”
So an employer in Richmond can never ask about my conviction history?
Not exactly. There are exceptions:
Exception 1: The Richmond ordinance does not prohibit employers who are required by state or federal law to conduct background checks from looking into your conviction history.
Exception 2: The ordinance does not prohibit employers looking to fill “Sensitive Positions” from considering your conviction history. A “Sensitive” position is a position that has one or more of the following job characteristics:
- Regular unsupervised handling of large amounts of cash;
- Regular unsupervised handling of other people’s private, personal, and confidential information
- Regular unsupervised contact with children under 16;
- Regular unsupervised contact with the elderly or disabled;
- Regular unsupervised responsibility for operating a bus, taxi, or limousine used to transport the general public;
- Any position in a business that requires regular unsupervised entry into private premises;
- Any position in a business that involves unsupervised handling of hazardous substances.
When can an employer ask about my conviction history?
If the employer falls under one of the exceptions, the employer can only conduct a background check after determining you are otherwise qualified for the position AND after extending a conditional offer of employment to you.
How can an employer consider my conviction history?
An employer can only consider convictions that are “substantially job-related,” and must conduct an individualized assessment, considering: the amount of time that has elapsed since the conviction; and any evidence of rehabilitation or other mitigating circumstances.
What if the employer denies me a job because of my conviction history?
If an employer denies you a job because of a substantially job-related conviction, it must: give you a written notice of rejection, including how the conviction is related to the job; and give you the opportunity to correct any mistakes in your record and offer evidence of rehabilitation or other mitigating circumstances.
What can I do if an employer has violated the Richmond ordinance?
The most obvious violation of the ordinance is failure to remove all questions regarding criminal history on the initial job application. Although all employers must file a copy of their standard application with the city as part of the formal bidding process, mistakes can happen. If you think a covered employer in Richmond has violated the ordinance, contact the City Manager (Bill Lindsay at the time of publication):
450 Civic Center Plaza, Suite 300
Richmond, CA 94804
Phone: (510) 620-6512
Fax: (510) 620-6542
What happens to an employer who violates the Richmond Ordinance?
Employers have 30 days from receiving the notice of a violation to comply with the ordinance. The Richmond City Manager also has the legal authority to fine employers, to suspend or terminate their lease or contract with the city, to deny future leases or contracts, or to order any other legal remedy available.