Colorado Employers Prohibited From Requiring Applicants to Disclose Felony Convictions on Initial Applications for Certain Positions, Effective September 1, 2019
Under the recently passed Colorado Chance to Compete Act (HB 19-1025), Colorado employers are prohibited from requiring applicants to disclose felony convictions in an initial job application for employment. The new law goes into effect on September 1, 2019 for employers with at least 11 employees, and on September 1, 2021 for employers with fewer than 11 employees.
The new law prohibits employers from advertising that a person with a criminal history may not apply for a position, placing a statement in an employment application that a person with a criminal history may not apply for a position; or inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history on an initial application.
The law exempts employers from the restrictions on advertising and initial employment applications when the law prohibits a person who has a particular criminal history from being employed in a particular job, the employer is participating in a program to encourage the employment of people with criminal histories, or the employer is required by law to conduct a criminal history record check for the particular position.
The stated purpose for the new law is to provide those with criminal backgrounds a better chance to compete for a job in the workforce and to reduce the likelihood of recommitting an offense, and to grow Colorado’s economy and lower unemployment costs. The law expressly allows employers to obtain a job applicant’s publicly available criminal background report at any time.
The law does not create a private cause of action for individuals against their employer. The law, however, will be enforced by the Colorado Department of Labor. The enforcement mechanisms will include warnings and compliance orders, and penalties for subsequent violations. If a violation is found, the Colorado Department of Labor may impose the following:
• First violation – a warning and an order requiring compliance within 30 days
• Second violation – an order requiring compliance within 30 days and a civil penalty not to exceed $1,000.
• Third or subsequent violation – an order requiring compliance within 30 days and a civil penalty not to exceed $2,500.
Employers should review their hiring policies and especially their employment applications to ensure that applicants are not asked to disclose felony convictions in an initial application for employment.