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New Law Prevents Most Employers From Checking Juvenile Criminal Histories

waponigirl / Flickr

waponigirl / Flickr

After Jan. 1, most California employers will no longer be able to ask minors for their juvenile criminal histories as part of the hiring process.

Assemblyman Mark Stone says the new law is intended to prevent young people from losing out on jobs because of past, non-violent crimes, or due to their involvement in legal proceedings, like family court.

"Yeah, they were in trouble, maybe they don't know quite what it was or what had happened. They may say, 'Yeah, I was arrested or went through some court process.' What this bill does is says that an employer cannot ask that because it's as prejudicial as when it's an adult talking about an adult record." 

Stone says the new law is intended to remove roadblocks to rehabilitation.

"So, if somebody who is turning their life around is looking to rehabilitate can't get a job, can't get housing, can't go to school, then we potentially lose a situation where we have a productive member of our community."

Leslie Heimov is with the Children's Law Center of California. She supports the new law and says it could especially help foster children.

"I think one of the things that's unique for kids in foster care is that they are often arrested and charged for activities that a child who is living at home with their parents would never be arrested for and would never see the inside of a courtroom. So, kids that are in foster care through no fault of their own because they've been abused or neglected sort of get a double whammy."

There is a notable exemption to both laws. Hospitals and health facilities may still ask about criminal histories of applicants. 

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