OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 5237 (as amended by House "A")*

AN ACT CONCERNING FAIR CHANCE EMPLOYMENT.

SUMMARY:

This bill prohibits employers from asking about a prospective employee's prior arrests, criminal charges, or convictions on an initial employment application unless (1) the employer must do so under state or federal law or (2) the prospective employee is applying for a position for which the employer must obtain a security or fidelity bond or equivalent bond.

The bill allows a prospective employee to file a complaint with the labor commissioner alleging a violation of this prohibition and subjects violators to a $300 per violation civil penalty imposed by the Labor Department. It also allows someone to file a complaint with the commissioner alleging an employer's violation of existing law on employment-related criminal record checks.

Lastly, the bill establishes the Fair Chance Employment Task Force to study issues that include the employment opportunities available to people with criminal histories. The task force must provide two reports to the Labor and Judiciary committees on its findings and recommendations for administrative or legislative action. The first is due by January 1, 2017, and the second is due by January 1, 2018.

*House Amendment “A” replaces the underlying bill (File 685) which generally prohibited employers with at least three employees from (1) asking about a prospective employee's past convictions until the employer made a conditional employment offer and (2) disqualifying someone from employment solely because of a prior criminal conviction.

EFFECTIVE DATE: January 1, 2017, except the provisions creating the task force and making a conforming change are effective upon passage.

COMPLAINTS FOR EMPLOYMENT-RELATED CRIMINAL RECORDS CHECKS

The bill allows someone to file a complaint with the labor commissioner alleging an employer's violation of its prohibitions or related violations of existing law. Existing law prohibits employers from requiring an employee or job applicant to disclose an arrest, criminal charge, or conviction with records that have been erased under certain conditions and requires employers to include a notice on job applications that states, among other things, that an applicant is not required to disclose these matters. The law prohibits employers from denying employment to an applicant or discharging or discriminating against an employee based solely on such matters or a prior conviction for which the employee or applicant received a provisional pardon or certificate of rehabilitation. It also requires employers to comply with certain requirements related to the confidentiality of a job application's criminal history section.

FAIR CHANCE EMPLOYMENT TASK FORCE

The bill establishes the Fair Chance Employment Task Force to study issues that include the employment opportunities available to people with criminal histories. The task force consists of the African-American Affairs Commission's (AAAC) executive director, or his designee, and one member appointed by each of the six legislative leaders. Appointments to the task force must be made within 30 days after the bill becomes law, and the appointees may include members of the General Assembly. Any vacancies must be filled by the appointing authority.

The House speaker and Senate president pro tempore must select two chairpersons from among the task force's members. The co-chairs must schedule the task force's first meeting, which must be held within 60 days after the bill becomes law. The AAAC's administrative staff must serve as the task force's administrative staff. The task force must terminate when it submits its final report or on January 1, 2018, whichever is later.

BACKGROUND

Legislative History

The House referred the bill (File 175) to the Appropriations Committee, which reported a substitute (File 685) 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 the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, 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)