Effective November 1, 2013, Seattle, Washington will join various other jurisdictions (most recently Minnesota, Indiana, North Carolina and Buffalo, New York) that limit inquiries into and the use of criminal records for employment purposes. On June 10, 2013, the Seattle City Council adopted Council Bill 117796 (the Ordinance), which Mayor Mike McGinn is expected to sign. The Ordinance provides for administrative enforcement but affords no private right of action. Nonetheless, employers with operations or employees in Seattle should review the prohibitions in the Ordinance and should also continue to monitor related developments across the U.S.
Using criminal record information for employment purposes is currently a hot-button issue. In addition to the passage of ordinances such as this, earlier this week the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed two new disparate impact discrimination lawsuits asserting that the employers used criminal records for employment purposes in a manner that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. There has also been a considerable spike in class action lawsuits filed against employers for using background checks in violation of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
To learn more, please see Littler's ASAP, Seattle Adopts Ordinance Limiting Inquiries Into and Use of Criminal Records for Employment Purposes, by Rod Fliegel, Pam Salgado, Dan Thieme, and Jennifer Mora.