Colorado Enacts 'Ban the Box' Law Affecting Employers in that State

Colorado has recently become the 13th state to enact ‘ban the box’ legislation. This occurred when Gov. Jared Polis signed the Colorado Chance to Compete Act on May 28, 2019. This new law prohibits employers from the following practices:

  • State in any advertisement for the position that a person with a criminal history may not apply for the position
  • State on any form of application, whether written or electronic, that a person with a criminal history may not apply for the position
  • Inquire into, ore require disclosure of, an applicant’s criminal history on an initial written or electronic application form

“Criminal history” is defined to mean “records of arrests, charges, pleas, or convictions for any misdemeanor or felony at the federal, state, or local level. Employers with 11 or more employees will need to abide by this new law by September 2019, while employers with less than 11 employees have until September 2021. This new law applies to both the public and private sector.

Of interest, this new law allows an employer to “obtain the publicly available criminal background report of an applicant at any time”. Many ‘ban the box’ laws across the country expressly state when the report can be obtained, but Colorado does not.

Governor Polis also signed similar legislation that places restrictions on when public universities and colleges can ask prospective students about their criminal histories on their applications.

If a violation of this law is found, the following penalties will be enforced:

  • First violation: a warning and an order to comply within 30 days
  • Second violation: an order requiring compliance within 30 days and a civil penalty not to exceed $1,000
  • Third or subsequent violations: an order requiring compliance within 30 days and a civil penalty not to exceed $2,500.

Employers in Colorado should immediately review their hiring practices to ensure they comply with this new law.

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