Harrell Job Assistance Legislation Takes Effect Today

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City of Seattle

Councilmember Bruce A. Harrell

Harrell Job Assistance Legislation Takes Effect Today

SEATTLE — Effective November 1, 2013, job applicants with previous criminal records cannot be automatically excluded from being considered for job opportunities.  Legislation was adopted in June 2013 as an attempt to increase public safety by reducing criminal recidivism.

"Giving people a second chance will lead to a safer Seattle," said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee, and the law’s sponsor.  "Study after study has shown that when people are able to land jobs, they are less likely to reoffend.  That means more opportunity for those who need help the most and less crime in our neighborhoods."

The law prohibits employers from automatically excluding individuals with any arrest or conviction record from consideration for employment. While employers may inquire about an individual’s criminal history after they have completed an initial screening to eliminate unqualified applicants, they may not reject a qualified applicant solely based on their criminal record unless they have:

  • Identified to the employee or applicant the record or information on which they are basing their employment decision;
  • Provided the applicant or employee a reasonable opportunity to explain or correct the information and hold the position open for a minimum of two business days after notifying the applicant or employee to provide them a meaningful opportunity to respond; and,
  • A "legitimate business reason" for making the employment decision.

Councilmember Harrell said, "Data shows that incarceration rates disproportionally impact people of color.  This law is one tool to remedy racial disparities in Seattle. This should be a hopeful day for many people in Seattle." 

The Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee collaborated with businesses, the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce and social justice organizations to develop this law.  For more information about the law and its implementation, visit the Office for Civil Rights webpage.

[View in Council Newsroom]