OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 5237

AN ACT CONCERNING FAIR CHANCE EMPLOYMENT.

SUMMARY:

This bill provides employment-related protections for people with criminal conviction records. Current law generally prohibits the state, subject to certain exceptions, from (1) asking about a prospective state employee's past convictions until it deems the prospective employee to be otherwise qualified for the position; (2) disqualifying someone from state employment solely because of a prior criminal conviction; or (3) in connection with an employment application, using, distributing, or disseminating any erased conviction records or arrest records that did not lead to a conviction.

The bill extends these prohibitions and their exceptions to all employers with at least three employees. It also prohibits these employers from inquiring about a prospective employee's past convictions until the employer makes a conditional employment offer. As under the current law for state employment, someone who believes that he or she was denied employment solely because of a criminal conviction may file a discriminatory practice complaint with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) within 30 days after the alleged discriminatory act (CGS 46a-51(8) and 46a-82).

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2016

INQUIRIES ABOUT PAST CONVICTIONS

Current law generally prohibits the state from asking about a prospective employee's convictions until it deems the person otherwise qualified for the position. The prohibition does not apply (1) to the legislative branch and the state boards of Labor Relations and Mediation and Arbitration or (2) if a state law specifically disqualifies someone from a position because of a prior conviction.

The bill expands this prohibition to include all employers with at least three employees, including municipalities, the currently excluded state employers, and the private sector. It additionally prohibits these employers from asking about convictions until they make a conditional offer of employment. Under the bill, this is an employment offer contingent only on the prospective employee's successful completion of the employer's application process or production of a valid license needed for the employment. As under current law, the prohibitions do not apply to positions for which state law specifically disqualifies someone because of a prior criminal conviction.

DISQUALIFICATIONS FROM EMPLOYMENT

Subject to certain exceptions, current law prohibits the state from disqualifying someone from state employment solely because of a prior criminal conviction. The bill extends this prohibition to all employers with at least three employees.

Exceptions

The bill extends current law's exceptions to this prohibition. Thus, it does not apply to law enforcement agencies. Other employers may also deny someone employment because of a prior criminal conviction if they determine the job applicant is not suitable for the position after considering the following factors:

1. the nature of the crime and its relationship to the job for which the person applied,

2. information about the person's degree of rehabilitation, and

3. how much time has passed since the person's conviction or release.

If the applicant has received a provisional pardon or certificate of rehabilitation, the employer must presume that the person is rehabilitated. If, after considering the above information, an employer rejects an applicant, the employer must provide the applicant with a written rejection that specifically states the evidence presented and reasons for the rejection. Under current law, the rejection must be sent to the applicant by registered mail. The bill allows it to also be sent by email.

BACKGROUND

Legislative History

The House referred the bill (File 175) to the Appropriations Committee, which reported a substitute that, among other things, (1) provides protections to all job applicants, rather than only those who have been released from the corrections commissioner's custody for a certain amount of time; (2) prohibits employers from inquiring about criminal convictions, rather than limiting the prohibition to questions on job applications; and (3) places enforcement of the bill under CHRO, rather than the Labor Department.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Labor and Public Employees Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

13

Nay

0

(03/10/2016)

Appropriations Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

45

Nay

9

(04/14/2016)