Add Richmond, California to the Ban-the-Box List

Nick Fishman

California Criminal Background Checks

The three small, yet weighted words, “ban-the-box” might be sounding old to your ears by now if you’ve kept up with every city, state or municipality that has passed the law. As our duty to you is to keep you updated on recent legislation across the country, add one more city to the growing list—Richmond, California. The pros and cons of the ban-the-box law may or may not be tipping the scale in either direction currently (depending on your opinion), but passing this law has given hope to many with a criminal past.

As this article points out, the city of 100,000 has had problems particularly with crime and perhaps as a direct result, high unemployment. And because of this, Richmond seems to be a good candidate for this legislation. The law requires employers to remove the box from job applications asking if the person has been convicted of a crime, but it not only prevents employers from asking, but also from conducting an employment background check before an offer has been made. And in some cases a background check might not be allowed even when an offer has been made.

It’s also important to note that every city or state that has passed this law usually has had a driving force moving it forward. For example, in Seattle, it was a long and ultimately, successful road led by advocates like Seattle Council member, Bruce Harrell. For Richmond, one such advocate was Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles, who sponsored the law. Beckles deemed this particular law, as the most “cutting-edge” ban-the-box law in the country.

Richmond Ban-the-Box:

  • Approved by the city council with a 6-1 vote, set to take effect this September
  • Will affect private businesses with city contracts, with more than 9 employees
  • Richmond is added to 51 other municipalities that have enacted this law and 10 states having set this legislation into place
  • There are exceptions to allowing background checks for positions involving children or seniors
  • Perhaps stricter than other ban-the-box laws, businesses are prohibited from making any inquiry at any time into criminal history unless it’s for a position in which background checks are required by state or federal law. (Contra Costa Times)

Ban-the-Box Basics:

  • Ban-the-box prevents employers from conducting a background check until a conditional offer of employment has been extended
  • Employers can only take into consideration certain offenses committed within the past five to eight years
  • Murder, voluntary manslaughter and sex offenses requiring registry can be inquired about no matter how much time has passed.

Want more information on the ban-the-box movement? Angela Preston, our VP of compliance and general counsel has written a plethora of posts (these are just a few):

For more information, read this article by the Contra Costa Times, Richmond passes sweeping new restrictions on criminal background checks by employers

Check out our popular video on ban-the-box, Your Applicant’s Criminal Past: Does It Matter? 










Nick Fishman
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Nick Fishman

Nick Fishman is the co-founder of EmployeeScreenIQ, a leading, global employment background screening provider, and serves as the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He pioneered the creation of EmployeeScreen University, the #1 educational resource on employment background checks for human resources, security and risk management professionals. A recognized industry expert, Nick is a frequent author, presenter and contributor to the news media. Nick is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio and Texas.
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