LA California employers need to comply with two new employment or they will subject to lawsuits and penalties.
Employers can’t ask about an applicant’s criminal convictions
Los Angeles, in January 2017, passed what is known as a “ban the box” law. The law refers to one of the standard boxes that job applicants had to check prior to the new law that asked if the applicant had any prior convictions. Prior to the new law, applicants who failed to check the box could have been considered ineligible for the job. The new law’s restriction is in addition to the existing requirement that employers cannot inquire about arrests which have not resulted in a criminal conviction.
The new law holds that the employer can’t ask about prior convictions until – after – the employee has been conditionally offered the job. Employers can condition their offer on a criminal-history investigation but can’t withdraw the offer until a “Fair Chance Process” has been completed.
The “Fair Chance Process” requires that the employer cannot withdraw the offer unless it can show, through a written review, that the criminal conviction is a direct risk to the requirements of the job. The Process requires that the employee be given five days to reply to the written assessment. If the employee does respond, the employer is then required to explain why the response still places the job in jeopardy.
The law applies to private employers who employ, including the owners, 10 or more workers – if the employer is located in Los Angeles or does business in Los Angeles. The term employment includes educational or vocational training even if the training is without pay.
The ordinance applies to both misdemeanors and felonies. It applies to direct inquiries and to indirect inquires – backdoor ways to try to figure out if the applicant has a prior conviction.
The LA ban the box law also requires that employers make clear in their advertisements and locations where they seek employeesfor the job that the employer is ready to consider the applicant even if the applicant has a prior conviction. The idea is to encourage those with convictions to seek suitable work so they can earn an honest living instead of using criminal activity to make money. The job notice and conviction disclaimer must also be sent to any labor unions or employee representatives who have a contract regarding employment with that employer.
There are some exceptions to the conviction exemption:
- Where a firearm is need to do the job
- Where the employer cannot hire anyone with a conviction – because of an existing law
- If a current law holds that those with convictions cannot work in the job.
- Where there is a law that requires that employer ask about prior convictions
The right to bring a civil action
An applicant or employee can bring a lawsuit against any employer who violates the new ordinance for:
- Damages – lost wages
- Equitable relief – getting the job
- Statutory penalties – fines for noncompliance. Penalties vary depending on the number of prior violations
Increases in the Minimum Wage
California raised the minimum wages to $10.50 for employers who have 26 or more employees and $10 for smaller employers. These amounts will increase again on January 1, 2018 by an extra 50 cents for all covered employer
Los Angeles and three other locations (Malibu, Pasadena, and Santa Monica) have their own minimum wage requirements of $12 for larger employers and $10.50 for smaller employers which takes effect on July 1. Los Angeles requires additional wage increases through 2020 when employers who have 26 or more workers must pay $15 an hour. Smaller employers will be under the $15 an hour requirement in 2021. After 2020/2021, adjustments will be made to match the Consumer Price Index
There are strict time limits for bringing either type of legal claim. The sooner a valid claim is brought, the quicker the employee can work and be compensated for any financial losses. For strong advocacy, please call Stephen Danz & Associates at 877-789-9707