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Gov. Polis signs three new Colorado laws into effect

The Denver Business Journal is reporting that Colorado Governor Polis has signed three new Colorado laws into effect. As the DBJ reports, each came with some opposition and will have impacts on employers in Colorado.

Gov. Jared Polis on Monday signed a trio of bills that he said will improve the fortunes of working-class Coloradans — even as opponents have criticized the measures will make life harder for employers and possibly steer companies away from expanding in Colorado.

These laws are:

  1. Colorado House Bill 19-1025 is a “Ban the Box” law. It restricts, with some exceptions, an employer’s ability to inquire, especially on applications, about prior criminal history.
  2. Colorado House Bill 19-1210, which permits local governments to increase the minimum wage in their jurisdictions above Colorado’s statewide minimum.
  3. Colorado HB 19-1306, which requires the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to report “data that it currently collects regarding the call center work force, including tracking call center jobs and wage analysis of customer service employees,” quoting the bill’s official summary.

These laws now join in effect, the previously signed (May 22, 2019) HB19-085 (Equal Pay for Equal Work Act).

Taken together, HB 19-1025 and HB 19-085 in particular give employers good reason to immediately:

  • Review and revise their handbooks, workplace policies, and hiring documents accordingly.
  • Review and revise their hiring and promotion practices.
  • Consider undertaking an audit of pay levels as encouraged now by HB19-085.
  • Train supervisor, manager and HR accordingly.

San Francisco enacts Ban-The-Box ordinance for marijuana offenses

San Francisco is the latest to join a trend of authorities enacting ban-the-box legislation with an ordinance that supplements its “fair chance” law by, now, prohibiting employers from inquiring into marijuana use within California‘s marijuana-permissive law.

Source: San Francisco Ordinance No. 17-14.

Michigan and Wisconsin preemptively ban prohibitions against salary history inquiries

In stark contrast to a trend of authorities that have begun to prohibit inquiries into salary histories, Michigan and Wisconsin have each now passed legislation that prohibits and preempts any effort within those states by local governments to enact such a prohibition.

While Wisconsin’s ban is more limited in nature, Michigan’s makes no effort to limit its ban to questions involving salary histories. It is a broad ban on any effort in the state to limit or mandate the type of questions asked on applications. Here is the operative language of Michigan’s law:

A local governmental body shall not adopt, enforce, or administer an ordinance, local policy, or local resolution regulating information an employer or potential employer must request, require, or exclude on an application for employment or during the interview process from an employee or a potential employee. This section does not prohibit an ordinance, local policy, or local resolution requiring a criminal background check for an employee or potential employee in connection with the receipt of a license or permit from a local governmental body.

Source: Michigan S.B. 0353; Wisconsin A.B. 748.

California passes statewide ban-the-box prohibition

California continues to expand its employment laws. As reported in a previous post, California just passed a statewide prohibition against inquiries into pay history. Now, California has joined the growing trend (reported in this previous post) of jurisdictions that prohibit inquiries into an applicant’s criminal history, with its own statewide ban-the-box law (California AB 1008). AB 1008 not only prohibits such inquiries but also prohibits the inclusion of any inquiry into criminal convictions on an employment application form. It also limits the use of criminal history information obtained as part of a background check.

With the addition of California, this brings the number of states having ban-the-box prohibitions to ten, and as previously reported, there are even more cities and local jurisdictions that have passed such prohibitions. Employers should continue to check with legal counsel whether the jurisdictions in which they operate have adopted ban-the-box prohibitions.

Source: Bill Text – AB-1008 Employment discrimination: conviction history.

Ban the Box laws spread across the country

Looking for a survey of ban-the-box laws (laws that prohibit private employers from asking applicants about criminal histories)? These laws are being debated at every level of the government. With some form of “ban the box” aka “fair chance” legislation in 9 states (Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont) and 29 local authorities, it can be a challenge to determine if your company is in a jurisdiction covered by such a law. At the federal level, the Fair Chance to Compete Act was introduced (though not passed) in 2017, as S. 842 and H.R. 1905.

Here’s a handy chart published by SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management). See also this report by the National Employment Law Project, which estimates that “over 226 million people in the United States—over two-thirds of the U.S. population—live in a jurisdiction with some form of ban-the-box or fair-chance policy.”

Note these laws are quickly evolving. Indeed, this posting will likely be out of date by the time readers view it (!). Call your employment lawyer for updates.

Source: Ban the Box Laws by State and Municipality