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As a special service to our clients, Barran Liebman LLP provides valuable Electronic AlertsSM free of charge. The Electronic AlertsSM summarize new case law and statutes that may impact your business, and suggest methods to comply with new legal requirements.
If you would like a copy of an archived E-Alert emailed to you, please contact Traci Ray by email or phone at 503-276-2115.
By Josephine Ko
On November 18, 2015, the City of Portland’s Mayor, Charlie Hales, proposed a new ordinance that would expand on the statewide Ban the Box legislation. If the City Council passes the ordinance, most Portland employers would be forced to delay criminal background checks until after making a job offer to a prospective hire.
The proposed City ordinance is more expansive than what is required under the new state law. Under the new state law, which takes effect on January 1, 2016, employers can ask about job applicants’ criminal history at the initial interview or, if there is no interview, after a conditional offer of employment; however, employers cannot screen out applicants by asking on job application forms whether they have ever been arrested or convicted of a crime. In other words, the new state law, literally, “bans the box” that asks about criminal history on job application forms. The new state law does not does not require employers to wait until after a job offer to ask about criminal history or to conduct a background check – unless they do not interview for the position.
Mayor Charlie Hales had previously promoted this enhanced Ban the Box ordinance for the City of Portland, but he was forced to table it earlier this year when he failed to garner support within the business community. Now that the dust has settled with passage of the statewide Ban the Box law, Hales and the City of Portland have revived their campaign to push for an enhanced Ban the Box ordinance which would affect most employers in the City. According to Hales, “It is both an economic issue, a social justice issue, and a public safety issue.”
Employers operating in the City of Portland should pay close attention. The proposed ordinance, as it currently stands, would affect employers with six or more employees and only certain employers would be exempt. Exceptions would be made for jobs that involve direct access to children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities, mental illness, or substance abuse disorders, jobs where the law requires consideration of criminal history, and a few other categories. For the vast majority of employers who would be affected—possibly including employers not headquartered in the City of Portland—an enhanced Ban the Box ordinance will require revamping hiring procedures and training managers to avoid missteps during the hiring process. This could become an especially thorny problem for employers with employees working in and outside the City of Portland.
We will be monitoring this, so stay tuned for further updates.