On June 1, 2016, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signed House Bill 5237 (entitled “An Act Concerning Fair Chance Employment.”) into law. The new law prohibits most employers from requesting criminal history information on an initial employment application.
The new law applies to all Connecticut employers – regardless of size. Under the new law, employers will be prohibited from seeking information about prior arrests, criminal charges, or convictions as part of an initial employment application.
There are two exceptions to the above-stated prohibition. The prohibition does not apply when
- An employer is obligated pursuant to a federal or state law to ask about such criminal history for the position in question; and
- A position requires a security, fidelity, or equivalent bond.
However, if these exceptions do apply, employers must include certain notices on the application along with the criminal history inquiries. These notices must be set forth in a clear and conspicuous manner on the application and must state the following:
- The applicant is not required to disclose the existence of any arrest, criminal charge, or conviction the records of which have been erased pursuant to sections 46b-146, 54-76o or 54-142a of the Connecticut General Statutes;
- Criminal records subject to erasure under state law are those records pertaining to a finding of delinquency or that a child was a member of a family with service needs, an adjudication as a youthful offender, a criminal charge that has been dismissed or dropped, a criminal charge for which the person has been found not guilty or a conviction for which the person received an absolute pardon; and
- Any person whose criminal records have been erased shall be deemed to have never been arrested and may so swear under oath.
The new law does not erase existing restrictions that have been imposed on employers regarding an applicant/employee’s criminal history. Specifically, employers are still prohibited from
- Rejecting an applicant or terminating an employee because of erased records and
- Rejecting applicants or terminating employees because of a prior conviction for which the individual has received a provisional pardon or certificate of rehabilitation pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 54-130a, or a certificate of rehabilitation pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 54-108f.
Connecticut’s new “ban-the-box” law goes into effect on January 1, 2017. Before that date, it is recommended that Connecticut employers review their existing application materials and job advertisements and verify that they are in compliance with the new law. In addition, employers should provide training to employees who are responsible for the hiring of new employees to verify that these employees are aware of the laws relating to criminal background inquiries.