The Gainesville City Commission has passed a new Fair Chance Hiring ordinance. This rule extends the city’s existing law to private employers. In addition, this new ordinance will significantly limit how employers use criminal background checks in the hiring process.
In a unanimous vote, the City Commission agreed to extend fair chance hiring practices, which the city already used in hiring to private employers of 15 or more employees. In most respects, these policies follow the same fair chance hiring trends intended to give those with a criminal history a better chance of finding employment. Such movements have achieved significant traction in recent years.
This new ordinance will bar employers from including language in any job advertisement discouraging or indicating that applicants with criminal records would not see consideration. During the application process, employers may still explain to the applicant that the individualized assessment system might consider criminal history.
Under the new ordinance, covered employers cannot inquire about an applicant’s criminal history until after issuing a conditional offer of employment. At this point, the employer may perform a criminal background check. However, the new legislation limits the types of information that employers may consider when reviewing the candidate’s criminal history.
Employers cannot solicit information regarding arrests or criminal accusations that are not pending against the individual, did not result in a conviction, plea of nolo contendere, or deferred adjudication.
In reviewing criminal history, employers must perform an individualized assessment. Employers must:
Suppose an employer decides to disqualify an individual based on their background check results. In that case, they must inform the individual that they made this decision based on the individual’s criminal history. In addition, the employer must notify the individual that they can file a complaint with the Office of Equity & Inclusion.
This new legislation will require Gainesville employers to change how they screen and hire employees. During this period, employers must work with an experienced screening provider they can trust to ensure they remain compliant.
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