Job Assistance Ordinance Check-In: Positive Results

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City of Seattle

Councilmember Bruce A. Harrell

Job Assistance Ordinance Check-In: Positive Results

SeattleThe Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee reviewed the first evaluation of Seattle’s Job Assistance Ordinance (JAO) this week, a law created to help individuals who faced barriers to employment due to their conviction records. The law took effect November 1, 2013 after unanimous City Council approval.

The law focuses on three elements to improve public safety and employment:

  • Increase public safety and job assistance by reducing criminal recidivism;
  • Address inequities caused by racial disproportionality in the criminal justice system; and,
  • Provide a fair chance for employment to people who have paid their debts to society.

“Creating more opportunities to secure a good job helps our local economy and reduces crime in our neighborhoods,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell. “I am proud of the work the Office for Civil Rights has conducted during the soft launch of the law this year, which provided great flexibility in resolving questions and compliance problems.”

The evaluation of the JAO’s implementation was conducted by the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR), the agency primarily responsible for enforcement of the new law. A summary of the evaluation shows:

Enforcement Summary:

  • In the six months of JAO’s implementation, SOCR has responded to 36 employee inquiries (mix of questions and complaints), sent 11 advisory letters and filed seven charges.
  • The advisory letter notifies a business of a reported violation and requests necessary action within 30 days. Advisory letters allow employees to remain anonymous.
  • Of the 18 enforcement actions, SOCR closed six advisory letters and two charges. On average, SOCR closed the letters within 13 days and the charges within 83 days. SOCR’s goal is to close advisory letters within 30 days and charges within 180 days.
  • All of the closures resulted in early resolution of the complaint (i.e. informal agreement or formal settlement). Most employers (75%) modified their policies and/or practices to achieve compliance; the balance of employers had no apparent violation.
  • Charging parties recovered a total of $18,500 in settlements of the two charges. All of this money was distributed to the charging parties; SOCR did not impose or collect penalties.

Community Outreach Summary:

  • SOCR sent notice of the first public meeting to business owners registered in the City of Seattle Business License database. Over 200 people attended the two public meetings.
  • SOCR Business Liaison worked with over 100 employers, met with over 30 organizations to discuss outreach and collaboration.
  • 2 community meetings with Seattle Chinatown International District PDA in partnership with Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area (CIDBIA) at New Hong Kong Restaurant and Asian Resource Center.
  • SOCR provided 10 training seminars and will schedule more in the future
  • Held 21 meetings and talked one-on-one with immigrant business owners and chambers from the:
  • African Chamber of Commerce of the Pacific Northwest
  • Greater Seattle Chinese Chamber of Commerce
  • Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area
  • Chinatown-International District Preservation and Development Authority
  • Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce of Seattle
  • Vietnamese Friendship Association
  • Friends of Little Saigon
  • Greater Seattle Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce
  • Filipino Chamber of Commerce of the Pacific Northwest
  • Eastern European-American Chamber of Commerce
  • WA State Korean American Chamber of Commerce
  • City of Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs
  • City of Seattle Department of Executive Administration
  • King County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • Latino Program of Washington CASH

The Office for Civil Rights provides assistance for employers, employees and job applicants. Contact information and details about the law is available here.

[View in Council Newsroom]