L.A. bans criminal record inquiries in hiring, even for non-L.A. employers

“Not to be outdone by San Francisco or New York City, the City of Los Angeles has enacted the strictest ‘ban the box’ ordinance in the country, and its many requirements are detailed and onerous….Notably, the employer need not be located within the city” to be covered, provided it has “10 or more employees who perform an average of at least two hours of work each week in the City of Los Angeles.” Employers cannot ask about criminal convictions before offering jobs, and can do so afterward only by using a multi-step process — providing a rationale in writing, holding a job open for at least five days while the applicant responds, then writing another document of justification — designed to facilitate successful litigation over the withdrawal of an offer. [Karen Dinino, Christine Samsel, and Sherli Shamtoub/Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck]


  • It’s government hiding from itself. They criminalise so much behavior; pass out felony convictions like confetti; and then tell real world employers not to ask about it. Almost like they’re embarrassed at what they have done to people.

  • “Since we’re not allowed to ask a question that would ensure us that the person we wish to hire is not a criminal, we won’t hire anyone in this vicinity. San Franciscan, you’re fired.


  • Sounds like a brilliant plan to drive all defense contractors out of the city. Asking someone to fill out the forms to get a security clearance likely doesn’t meet the requirements of this ordinance.

  • What if the applicant is denied a security clearance required as a condition of employment because of a criminal record? Momma OMB is not going to be pleased by the increased number of clearance applicants turned down because of unrevealed to the employer criminal history.

    Can they prevent a recruiter from asking a potential enlistee about any criminal record? Again, the military clearance granting agency is not going to be pleased by an increased number of declined applications.

    • I saw after submitting this comment that the ordinance does not apply to any position requiring access to ordnance. So military recruiters are not affected.

      To quote the late, great Emily Litella, “Never mind,” at least for this concern.

      • I have to admit, Emily was great!

  • Hmmm. I wonder how the FBI, Secret Service, and all law enforcement agencies that operate in Los Angeles feel about this requirement.

    • I doubt federal agencies can be held to a local ordinance.

      • They can be, at least in some areas.

        The exemption for positions requiring access to weapons would cover at least all sworn positions. Non-sworn positions might be open to litigation.

  • “I see a gap of 5 years on your resume. What were you doing during that time and where were you doing it?”

    • Trappist monastery in the mountains of Colorado.

      • There are no Trappist monasteries in the mountains of Colorado. However, if you were to share their brewing recipes with me, I could be encouraged to look the other way.

  • Should work out great for companies like Uber.

  • Instead of the ridiculous question of “if you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?” can employers now ask “if you were convicted of a crime, what prison would you liked to have served your time in?”

    The problem is that this is the government telling people what they cannot do or ask without a legitimate interest. Furthermore, the company having to justify a decision not to hire someone means that someone who has most likely never worked in the company’s industry or ever hired someone in their life will get to review the decision the company has made.

    It is stunning that the people behind the “ban the box” movement are more concerned with a company being held accountable for the actions of a convicted felon than the felon themselves.

  • And yet, if the new hire does something awful, the company will be liable. And this probably conflicts with other regulations about criminal records and certain jobs. I believe it was actually in California at some bank that they discovered someone who had worked there for 15 yrs had a minor criminal conviction like DUI or something before getting hired, and had to fire them because of the rules.
    Oh, and LA really needs to make it harder to hire people. What a great idea. This is how this will backfire. Companies will simply not hire blacks for any job where a criminal record might be a problem, instead of filtering out the bad actors they will simply ban them all. Job fairs are great for this because you can see the person.

  • The law exempts positions for which the law requires that a criminal history be obtained, and positions for which someone with a criminal conviction is legally disqualified. Unfortunately, it will also force employers into a rigid non-hiring policy for any position for which they may be able to provide the required legal justification. They won’t be able to make exceptions as those exceptions could be used as evidence that the provided justification was a pretext.

  • One other thing…..

    For public housing, the City of Los Angeles requires:

    All adult members of the household must pass a criminal background check


  • Easy solution: Only interview and hire in Arizona, and after an initial training period, transfer to L.A. Smaller firms can contract out screening and hiring. Or, better yet, just move to someplace that welcomes businesses.

    It’s another piece of Texas Full Employment legislation.