Legal Updates & Alerts

The New "Ban the Box" Rules for Job Applicants

February 1, 2016
By Lindsay Reynolds

The new year is upon us and so too are many new laws that the Oregon legislature has enacted. New laws that went into effect on January 1, 2016 include: Oregon's "Ban the Box" law; state-wide Oregon paid sick leave; changes to Oregon's noncompetition law; protection for employee discussions about their wages in the workplace; additional social media protections; and required continuation of medical coverage under the Oregon Family Leave Act, to name a few.
This is the first in a series of Tonkon Tips that will address these new laws and provide immediate action items that we recommend you take to ensure compliance with these new laws.
Oregon and Portland "Ban the Box" rules.

Both Oregon and the city of Portland joined the "second chance" movement this year by prohibiting employers from excluding an applicant from an initial interview solely because of a past criminal conviction. However, the two laws have their differences, and the Portland Ordinance is stricter on employers.
Specifically, under Oregon law, employers cannot require an applicant to disclose a criminal conviction on an employment application, before an initial interview, or, if no interview is conducted, before making a conditional offer of employment. The state-wide law went into effect January 1, 2016.
By contrast, under the Portland ordinance, employers with six or more employees, at least one of whom works a majority of the time within the city of Portland, cannot ask about or access criminal backgrounds before a conditional offer of employment is made. In addition, the ordinance requires that employers conduct an analysis of whether rejecting an applicant because of his or her criminal background is job-related and consistent with business necessity. The Portland ordinance takes effect on July 1, 2016.
Action Items:
  • Review your job applications to ensure they do not contain any questions about the applicant's criminal history.
  • Train hiring managers to refrain from asking about an applicant's criminal history before the times permitted by the new laws.
  • Adopt a written background check policy and distribute it to all personnel.

This client update is prepared for the general information of our clients and friends. It should not be regarded as legal advice. If you have any questions regarding this update, or for more information about this topic, please contact any of our Labor & Employment attorneys, or the attorney with whom you normally consult.