Fair Chance Hiring Up for Consideration in Gainesville, Florida: How it May Impact Private Employers

If you do business in Gainesville, Florida, you could join the collective of cities and states adopting Fair Chance Hiring Laws. If the proposed ordinance passes, certain private employers with over 15 employees could have a list of stipulations to follow.

What Employers Could This Affect?

As currently drafted, the proposed ordinance defines an employer as:

“A person, company, corporation, firm, labor organization, or association that employs at least 15 individuals who worked in the city each working day for 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year. The term includes an agency acting on behalf of an employer. The term also consists of the city.”

The term does not include:

  • The United States government, any of its departments or agencies, or any corporation wholly owned by it;
  • The government of the State of Florida or any of its departments, agencies, or political subdivisions;
  • A business that is exempt from taxation under Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code;
  • Daycares and other care facilities as defined by Florida Statutes;
  • Or any other entity excluded by operation of state or federal law.

Fair Chance is all About Fair Chance

WCJB News reported recently that people who were in prison may soon have a better shot at gaining employment. The subject of a person seeking employment with a criminal record is not new. SHRM estimates that almost 80 million people in the U.S. have a criminal record of some sort – that’s over one-third of the adult population.”

According to the proposed law, an employer may not post a job that implies that criminal history automatically disqualifies the candidate. Plus, the employer is not permitted to ask about any criminal history on the job application. This includes soliciting from a job applicant or otherwise inquiring through a third-party about any arrests or criminal accusations, other than an arrest or accusation related to domestic violence, which is not currently pending against the applicant or did not result in a conviction, or other certain dispositions as defined within the law.

Once a conditional offer is made to the candidate, the employer may ask about criminal history. Staffing agencies may solicit criminal history to make an individualized assessment of that history if they have identified a potential job for the candidate, or to place them into a staffing pool. Other stipulations of this proposed ordinance include:

  • Forbidding an employer from refusing to consider the person for employment because the individual did not provide criminal history information before the individual received a conditional employment offer.
  • Adverse action may not be taken because of the criminal history unless the employer determines that the candidate is unsuitable for the job based on an individualized assessment.
    • Before taking adverse action because of an individual’s criminal history, notice must be given to the applicant. This notice must inform the individual of the basis for the decision and must provide the criminal history records used by the employer in consideration of the individual’s application. A reasonable amount of time should be given to the applicant to explain the context of the record and to provide any information demonstrating rehabilitation and good conduct since the criminal offense.
    • If an employer chooses to move forward with the adverse action, they must give written notice that the decision was made on the person’s criminal history. This notice must include a statement outlined within city law along with the notice.

Violations Could Prove to be Significant

Like other local “Ban-the-Box” style laws, the proposed ordinance includes penalties for violations. The law proposes that first time violations may receive a $500 civil penalty. Alternately, the Office of Equity & Inclusion may issue a warning if the employer attends an appropriate training session about complying with this ordinance. For each subsequent violation, the employer may be subject to a civil penalty of $1,000.

This Gainesville Fair Chance Act is not yet law. The legislative process may change portions of this law. Verified Credentials will monitor and provide updates on this pending ordinance.

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