Colorado has joined the ranks of states with legislation designed to help people with criminal records have a chance to secure employment.
The new Job Applicant Criminal History Inquiries Act is intended to “provide people with criminal records with a more meaningful chance to compete for a job.” The law, which becomes effective September 1, 2019, for employers with 11 or more employees and on September 1, 2021, for all private employers in the state, prohibits employers from stating in job advertisements or employment applications that individuals with criminal records may not apply.
The law prohibits covered employers from inquiring about or requiring the disclosure of applicants’ criminal histories in initial job applications. Exceptions include if:
- Federal, state, or local law prohibits employing a person with a specific criminal history;
- Federal, state, or local law requires the employer to conduct a criminal history record check for the position; or
- The employer has designated the position to participate in federal, state, or local government programs designed to encourage the employment of people with criminal histories.
The law still permits employers to obtain publicly available criminal background reports on applicants at any time.
Under the law, job applicants can’t sue directly for violations. Instead, they may report violations to the state, which will investigate and may issue penalties. The penalties begin with a warning and an order for compliance and then escalate to $1,000 for a second violation and $2,500 for any subsequent violations.
For more information on new laws in Colorado, see the July 2019 issue of Colorado Employment Law Letter.