OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 5207 (as amended by House "A")*

AN ACT CONCERNING CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR PROSPECTIVE STATE EMPLOYEES.

SUMMARY:

This bill prohibits certain covered state employers from asking about a prospective employee's past convictions until the person is deemed otherwise qualified for the position. The prohibition does not apply if a statute specifically disqualifies someone from a position due to a prior conviction.

The applicable employers are the state; the executive and judicial branches including any of their boards, departments, commissions, institutions, agencies, or units; boards of trustees of state-owned or
-supported colleges, universities, or their branches
; public and quasi-public state corporations; authorities established by law; and anyone designated by the employer to act in its interest with employees. The bill does not cover the state Board of Labor Relations; Board of Mediation and Arbitration, or, apparently, the legislative branch. This means these employers may ask about the prior convictions of a prospective employee. However, the law, unchanged by the bill, prohibits these and other state agencies from disqualifying a person from employment solely because of a prior conviction (see BACKGROUND).

*House Amendment “A” changes the original file's provisions by (1) applying to any inquiry about past convictions and not just inquiring through a consumer report, (2) prohibiting an inquiry until the person is deemed qualified rather than until the person is deemed qualified and made a conditional offer of employment, and (3) eliminating provisions on when an agency must consider certain factors before denying state employment or a credential based on a prior conviction.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2010

BACKGROUND

Denying State Employment or Credential Based on Prior Convictions

With two exceptions, the law prohibits the state and its agencies from disqualifying a person from state employment or denying, suspending, or revoking a credential (such as a professional, trade, or business license) solely because of the person's prior conviction. The exceptions are for law enforcement agencies and licensing mortgage lenders, correspondent lenders, and brokers. Instead, prior to making a decision based on a prior conviction, the relevant agency must consider the nature of the crime, its relation to the job, the person's rehabilitation, and the time since the conviction or release before finding someone unsuitable for the position or credential.

An agency must consider these factors regardless of other law and even when another law purports to govern denying credentials due to lack of good moral character or suspending or revoking a credential due to a conviction.

Related Bills

sSB 54, File 186, favorably reported by the Banks and Public Safety and Security committees, allows the banking commissioner to conduct state and national criminal background checks of license applicants and expands the commissioner's authority to deny applications on the basis of criminal convictions. The provision applies to applications for a sales finance company, small loan lender, check cashing service, money transmission or payment instrument issuer, debt adjuster, debt negotiator, or consumer collection agency license.

sSB 59, File 188, favorably reported by the Banks and Public Safety and Security committees, specifies that the banking commissioner's authority to conduct criminal background checks of key personnel of Connecticut banks and Connecticut credit unions in various circumstances includes the authority to conduct both state and national background checks.

sSB 399, File 579, favorably reported by the Judiciary Committee, creates a civil action for violations of certain laws related to employment applications, consumer reports, and deletion of erased criminal records.

sHB 5186, File 178, favorably reported by the Banks and Judiciary committees, expands the banking commissioner's authority to (1) deny, suspend, or revoke the registration or (2) restrict or impose conditions on the securities or investment advisory activities of various individuals regulated by the Uniform Securities Act due to such individuals' criminal conviction history.

sHB 5409, File 279, favorably reported by the Banks Committee, requires the commissioner to deny a debt settlement application if he finds that the applicant or certain individuals connected to the applicant have been convicted within the past 10 years of any felony or a misdemeanor involving any aspect of the debt settlement business.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Labor and Public Employees Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute Change of Reference

Yea

7

Nay

3

(03/09/2010)

Government Administration and Elections Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

8

Nay

7

(03/26/2010)