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Ban the Box Update: Spokane City, Washington Becomes the Latest City to Ban the Box

Effective May 28, 2018, all Spokane employers are prohibited from:

  • Advertising applicable employment opportunities in a way that excludes people with arrest or conviction records;
  • Including any questions in an employment application, asking about (orally or in writing), or obtaining through a criminal background check (or otherwise) any information about arrests or convictions until after the applicant has participated in an in-person or video interview or received a conditional offer of employment;
  • Using, distributing, or disseminating an employee’s arrest or conviction record, except as required by law;
  • Disqualifying an applicant from employment solely because of a prior arrest or conviction; unless the conviction is related to the responsibilities of the job being applied for;
  • Disqualifying an applicant for the failure to disclose a criminal record prior to initially determining the applicant is otherwise qualified for the position.

The ordinance follows the lead of Spokane County, where they passed similar legislation for county employers in September of this year.  The ordinance does not apply in certain situations, including: an employer hiring an employee who will have unsupervised access to children, a vulnerable adult, or other vulnerable person; an employer who is required under federal or state law to inquire into, consider, or rely on an applicant’s arrest or conviction record for employment purposes; to any General Authority Washington law enforcement agency; or where criminal background checks are specifically permitted or required under state or federal law.

Best Practices Tip:  Spokane employers should review and revise their hiring practices, policies, and procedures to comply with the provisions above.  They should also remove any questions pertaining to prior arrest or conviction history from their employment applications and advise hiring personnel that they may not inquire into arrest or conviction history before a conditional offer of employment has been made.

Full text of the Spokane law

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