Under the ordinance passed last December by Portland, Oregon’s City Council, starting in July city and private employers will be barred from asking about job candidates’ criminal records or doing criminal background checks until after a job offer has been made.
In addition, when considering someone for a job, employers must weigh a candidate’s experience and skills without considering their past criminal convictions. However, once a conditional job offer has been made, the employer may do a criminal background check. But if an employer retracts a job offer based on a past criminal conviction, they must explain what prompted them to reconsider the applicant.
The ordinance applies to private-sector employers who have six or more employees, but exempts other governmental agencies besides the city of Portland.
Exceptions include drivers, law enforcement specialists or others involved in the criminal justice system, and those who work with children, the mentally ill or clients with past addictions. Volunteers also are exempted.
Enforcement of the ordinance is the responsibility of the state Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI), which handles other job discrimination-related cases.
People who feel employers failed to follow the ordinance have six months to file complaints with BOLI, but would lose the right to mount separate lawsuits against the employer.
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