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Fair Chance Ordinance to Help Prevent Discrimination

Posted by Eric Kingsley | Mar 19, 2014 | 0 Comments

San Francisco Mayor Signs Fair Chance Ordinance to Help Prevent Discrimination

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Just over one month ago, San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee signed San Francisco's Fair Chance Ordinance to help prevent discrimination. The ordinance “bans the box” on employment applications and restricts private employers' ability to use criminal history information. In an effort to prevent discrimination, the new ordinance bars most employers and housing providers from (1) asking applicants to disclose their criminal background in the application process, and (2) using criminal background history or records in the employment or housing selection process. Applications for jobs where criminal history is relevant – such as child care or law enforcement – are exempted from the application ban.

The goal of the so-called “Ban the Box” law is to help prevent discrimination by preventing employers and housing providers from discriminating against ex-offenders who have paid their debt to society and taken the necessary steps to rehabilitate themselves.

The new Fair Chance Ordinance explicitly prohibits employers that have 20 or more employees in San Francisco from inquiring into an applicant's criminal history on the employment application or during the first live interview regardless of whether the interview is conducted in person or via electronic technology, such as video conferencing or telephone.

This means that the prospective employer must first make a preliminary assessment about whether it wants to conduct a second interview before it can make any permissible inquiries about an applicant's criminal history.


The ordinance also makes it unlawful for employers to interfere with, restrain or deny the exercise of, or the attempt to exercise any right protected under the ordinance. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against applicants or employees who file a complaint, cooperate with The San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE), oppose any unlawful act or inform others of violations or their rights under the ordinance. Individuals who mistakenly allege violations in good faith are also explicitly protected.

The ordinance also creates a presumption of retaliation if the adverse action is taken against a person within 90 days of the exercise of a right under the ordinance.

Effective Date

The ordinance to help prevent discrimination was signed by the mayor on February 14, 2014 and takes effect on August 13, 2014.

Do you have questions about San Francisco's new Fair Chance Ordinance?

Employers and employees in San Francisco, California may question how the new law effects them come August, 2014.  If that's the case for you, don't hesitate to contact leading California employment lawyers from Kingsley & Kingsley.  Take advantage of a free initial consultation to discuss your specific case by calling us toll-free at (888) 500-8469 or clicking here to contact us

About the Author

Eric Kingsley

In practice since 1996, attorney and firm co-founder Eric B. Kingsley has litigated complex cases and authored numerous appellate briefs in both state and federal court on behalf of the California law firm of Kingsley & Kingsley, including over 150 class actions. Mr. Kingsley concentrates his pra...


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