The California state Senate is poised to vote on how and when employers consider the criminal records of job applicants. The bill is meant to reduce recidivism, but some business groups worry it could complicate the hiring process.
The bill would bar employers from factoring in an applicant’s criminal history until after they’ve made a tentative job offer. The author, Democratic Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, says he wants to make employers more likely to give someone a second chance.
“If you have a job, your recidivism rate is about 16 percent," McCarty says. "If you don’t have a job, it’s north of 50 percent.”
“To me, it’s just going to open a litigation floodgate,” says Tom Scott, who directs California’s chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business. He says the bill could increase liability for thousands of small businesses.
“You don’t have an HR department, you don’t have a legal department. If you mess up in that process, then you’re potentially opening yourself up,” Scott says.
The bill passed the Assembly in June, but has since been amended.
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