Felony Employment Discrimination: Can Employers in California Ask About Criminal Convictions?
| Read Time: 3 minutes | Discrimination

If you are applying for jobs in California, you may be wondering if employers can ask about any prior criminal convictions that you may have. Thankfully, California law provides a wide range of protections for job applicants with a criminal background, and it prevents employers from asking about past criminal convictions in initial job applications. 

In this article, we will discuss what California job applications need to know when applying for employment. This way, you can know your legal rights and protect yourself against discrimination. 

However, before we get into California’s protections for job applicants, we want to let you know that the attorneys at King & Siegel LLP are here to help you. Our seasoned employment law attorneys have over a decade of experience representing job applicants who have been discriminated against in the hiring process. At King & Siegel LLP, we have recovered millions in compensation on behalf of our clients, and we are available to help you get the justice and compensation that you deserve. 

California Laws Against Employment Discrimination

In the past, employers could discriminate against job candidates with a criminal record. To prevent this type of discrimination, California has enacted laws that protect the privacy of job applicants. 

The “ban the box” law, also called the Fair Chance Act, helps prevent employment discrimination in California. In essence, this law prohibits employers from asking about a job applicant’s criminal history on a job application. Further, employers must wait until after they have given out a conditional job offer to do a background check. 

In addition to the Fair Chance Act, California employers must be careful not to engage in felony employment discrimination. Instead, employers should take into account the nature of the criminal offense, the duration of the offense, and if the offense is relevant to the position that the job candidate is applying for. 

Under California law, if an employer uses a candidate’s criminal history as a basis for not hiring them, they must provide the candidate with a copy of the background check and inform the candidate that they have a right to appeal the decision. 

California’s Seven-Year Rule 

Under California’s seven-year rule, an employer’s background check can only go back seven years. Thus, if a criminal conviction is more than seven years old, it will not show up on an applicant’s background check. 

Can An Employer Fire You for Pending Charges in California? 

In general, an employer cannot fire an employee based solely on the fact that they have pending criminal charges. If they do fire an employee for this, then the employer may be liable for violating anti-discrimination laws. 

However, there are some situations where an employer may be able to terminate an employee because they have pending charges. For example, if the employee cannot attend work because they have mandatory court meetings regularly, they may be fired for their inability to fulfill their job duties. Further, if the State charges an employee who works around children with a sex crime, they may be fired because they are legally unable to work around children. 

What If An Employer Violates the Fair Chance Act? 

Suppose an employer violates the Fair Chance Act by asking you about your criminal history before giving you a conditional offer of employment. Or suppose they give you a background check before conditionally hiring you. In that case, you may be able to file a complaint or a lawsuit against the employer.

To file a complaint, you can head to the California Civil Rights Department’s website page on the Fair Chance Act. There, you will see a tab to electronically file a complaint under the Act. 

However, if you file a lawsuit, you may be able to seek monetary damages or equitable relief, unlike a complaint. A discrimination lawyer can assist you in filing a lawsuit and can help you follow the proper rules and procedures. 

If you believe you are being discriminated against in the workplace, King & Siegel LLP welcomes you to call our legal team today at (213) 465-4802 for a free review of your case.

King & Siegel LLP Is Here to Help You 

Trying to find a job when you have a criminal background can be difficult. But no one should be discriminated against, including those with a criminal history. At King & Siegel LLP, we believe that everyone should have a fair chance at employment. 

Our firm has assertive, compassionate, and responsive lawyers who have experience dealing with even the most complex employment law matters. If you choose us to represent you, we promise to stand up for your legal rights, and we will fight to get you the justice and compensation you deserve. 

In addition, because we care about victims of discrimination, we work on a contingency basis. This means you don’t have to pay us until we win your case. If we don’t win, you don’t have to worry about paying us our legal fees. To contact our office, you can reach out to us online or by phone. 

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Julian Burns King graduated with honors from Harvard Law School and founded King & Siegel in 2018. As head of the Firm’s discrimination and harassment practice areas, she champions the rights of working parents and victims of workplace discrimination and harassment. She has been recognized as a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers annually since 2018 and has recovered tens of millions of dollars on behalf of her clients.

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