hr lawyer in san francisco ca

San Francisco Limits Criminal Background Checks In Hiring


San Francisco Limits Criminal Background Checks In Hiring

San Francisco has put limits on criminal background checks in hiring a new employee.

San Francisco has joined Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island, and Philadelphia, Seattle and a few other cities in restricting pre-employment inquiries into criminal backgrounds of potential employees.

(While the remainder of this post will focus on the new SF City Ordinance, on March 10, 2014, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission issued joint guidance on employment background checks. There are two documents: one for guidance directed to employees and job applicants and the other is guidance directed to employers. Both documents contain general information, tips and lists of additional resources.)

San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee signed the Fair Chance Ordinance in mid-February and it will go into effect on August 13, 2014. Below is a summary of some of the key provisions of the new Ordinance:

  • It applies to employers with 20 or more employees, however, the restrictions only apply to employees who perform most or a substantial part or their duties within San Francisco. Thus, it would appear that, for example, if your company has 25 employees in Los Angeles, and is seeking to hire someone to work in San Francisco, the new Ordinance would apply to the hiring process for that position.
  • Employers cannot ask about an applicant’s criminal history in an employment application. Also, employers cannot ask about criminal histories during the initial interviews of candidates. Instead, questions about criminal histories may be investigated only after 1) the initial interview or 2) a conditional offer of employment.
  • Even when asking about criminal backgrounds, employers face more limitations about what types of criminal activities they can ask. Specifically, employers are barred from considering many items including the following: arrests that did not lead to conviction; convictions more than seven years old; convictions that have been judicially dismissed, expunged or voided; juvenile convictions; and a few other items.
  • If provided information about relevant criminal events, an employer may only consider that criminal event if it directly relates to the position. So, the crime must have a direct and specific negative bearing on that person’s ability to perform the duties or responsibilities necessarily related to the employment position. Employers must evaluate whether the job position provides the opportunity for the same or similar crime to occur, and the employer must analyze how distant in time the crime occurred and whether there are mitigating circumstances or evidence of rehabilitation.
  • Before making an adverse employment decision, the employer must provide the candidate with notice that an adverse decision is imminent. Then, the candidate has seven (7) days to provide evidence of rehabilitation and/or mitigating circumstances.
  • The Ordinance also requires posting of a notice that will be created by the San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement, notices in relevant job postings, and certain record-keeping practices.
  • The Ordinance also authorizes the SF OLSE to administratively enforce the Ordinance and levy penalties. Additionally, the City may bring a civil action in and seek remedies including backpay, reinstatement, liquidated damages, and attorneys’ fees and costs.

Employers should plan now to comply with the Ordinance and put the following on their “to do” lists:

  1. consult with an employment law/HR attorney
  2. update template employee application forms to eliminate prohibited questions
  3. update template job posts so that they contain required language
  4. update disclosure and authorization forms, and notices of adverse decisions
  5. train anyone who will be analyzing criminal histories about the requirements of the Ordinance, including the prohibition of retaliation
  6. review and update record-keeping practices to comply with the Ordinance
  7. post the required notice after the OLSE publishes it

What do you think about this new Ordinance? Does it help give a “fair chance” to those with a criminal background? Does it go too far and/or interfere too much with employment practices?

Maximize Your Social: Add This Book To Your Reading List!


Maximize Your Social: Add This Book To Your Reading List!

Want to know more about Social Media in the Workplace? Add this book to your reading list.

This Spring, I was asked to contribute to “Maximize Your Social: A One-Stop Guide to Building a Social Media Strategy for Marketing and Business Success” authored by Neal Schaffer and published by Wiley. I immediately said yes! My contribution to his book focuses on (to the surprise of no one) issues regarding social media in the workplace and policies to address those issues.

This book truly is very helpful for businesses regarding social media strategy and managing the risks associated with social media. Click on the link above for more information about it. You can also follow Maximize Social Business, an Advertising Age Top 100 Global Marketing Blog, for more great content about social media for marketing and business success, including my monthly contributions. This blog was created by Neal Schaffer, who has been named a Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencer two years in a row.

More States Pass Workplace Password Protection Laws


More States Pass Workplace Password Protection Laws

A new law went into effect on October 1, 2013 regarding social media password protection in the workplace. Two more laws will go into effect in the next few months, and several more could be passed next year. And, unfortunately, this trend does not appear to be ending anytime soon.

In my recent post for Maximize Social Business, which is creatively titled: “New Password Protection Laws In The Workplace,” I analyze some of these new laws and point out similarities and differences which may cause headaches for multi-state employers. Even single-State employers need to be aware of legislation in other states as well as their own because such laws are spreading quickly around the country. It is never too late to contact me, or another employment law/HR attorney to help your business comply with legal requirements and implement strategies to reduce legal risks so that you can focus on running a successful business.

Employers and HR Professionals: Register Now For Another Informative Webinar


Employers and HR Professionals: Register Now For Another Informative Webinar

Join us at the Northern California Employer Roundtable (NCERT).

As you may know, I am one of the Board Members of the Northern California Employer Roundtable (NCERT), revived by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. I want to extend an invitation to you for our next webinar presented by the Director of the DFEH, Phyllis Cheng and Patricia C. Perez, Former Vice Chair of the former CA Fair Employment and Housing Commission. Director Cheng and Ms. Perez will be discussing the new Fair Employment and Housing Act regulations regarding Pregnancy and Disability, effective December 30, 2012.

The webinar is set for Thursday, April 11, 2013 from Noon-1:00p.m. You can participate from the comfort of your own home or office. The nominal fee is $25.00 and continuing education credit is provided. Please see this flyer or more information. Follow this link to register (powered by the technology at Littler Mendelson).

Off-Color Jokes Get Two People Fired


Off-Color Jokes Get Two People Fired

HR Law: Do you know what mistakes got these people fired?

A woman is attending a general session at a conference. The audience is predominantly male. The woman hears two men sitting behind her make jokes about “big dongles” and “forking the repo.” Woman snaps a photo of the two men with her smartphone camera, posts that picture on her Twitter account (approximately 14,000 followers), and says: “Not cool. Jokes about forking repos in a sexual way and ‘big’ dongles. Right behind me.”

Eventually, two people are fired by their employers. And one of them is probably not who you think.

In my April post titled: “Lessons About Forking and Big Dongle Jokes” I make some legal sense about this real-life situation that has caught the attention of employees, employers, hackers, and even Anonymous. You can also catch-up and read all my other posts about Social Media and Employment Law at Windmill Networking (Now MaximizeSocialBusiness.com).