13 May Conviction Records and Washington State Employment
A new bill being introduced in Washington State (House Bill 2545), would prevent employers from inquiring about non-conviction records on initial employment applications except in cases where the inspanidual is working with children.
In the interest of fairness, many States, including Massachusetts and Minnesota have adopted laws to exclude criminal history questions from job applications. There is a growing trend to allow inspaniduals to initially compete based on capabilities and experience before introducing the complexities and defense of previous criminal records. Sponsors of the bill in Olympia Washington include Spokane Superior Court Judge Harold Clarke, President of the Washington State Drug Association Of Drug Court Professionals. Judge Clarke has stated that those who have attended court-supervised treatment where the case was dismissed, there is no conviction but the arrest does not appear, have worked hard and are currently unfairly penalized during the early employment process.
There are employers who are concerned that eliminating conviction information early during the hiring process may make it difficult for an employer to determine if a job applicant poses a threat in some way. Lawmakers reiterated that background checks may still be run after the initial stages of the application process.
Vanessa Hernandez, an attorney with the ACLU of Washington, states that “In the United States, people are entitled to the presumption of innocence” and believes that there should be fairness in evaluating an applicant during the initial hiring process. At this time, it is unclear as to whether it the bill will be passed during this legislative session.