Yesterday, Austin’s city council passed what is considered a very controversial ordinance requiring private employers to remove “the box” on their employment applications requesting applicants to disclose whether they have a criminal history or not when applying for jobs with their company. Over 100 cities across the country and a large number of states already have some form of this same requirement for fair chance hiring for those who have prior criminal records. Austin employers need to understand that this ordinance does not prevent them from screening their new hires for offenses that may be job relevant and a risk to their company or employees. Employers can still conduct criminal background checks on candidates they’ve considered hiring by making them a contingent offer of employment based on a criminal background screen, as long as their decision to revoke an offer due to unfavorable findings is based on job relevancy.
If something comes back on a background screen that will be a determining factor in the hiring decision, the Fair Credit Reporting Agency (FCRA), requires that the applicant be notified of this and given the opportunity to dispute in the event it’s incorrect. With the increase in identity theft, an incorrect background check may preclude an employer from hiring an outstanding candidate; this is in the spirit of this new ordinance among the many considerations. Employers with questions around this new ordinance and who may need help in navigating their hiring process, understanding job relevancey and guidance with this new provision are encouraged to call us to see how we can be of assistance.