On Oct. 20, 2021, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) announced a new effort to identify and correct violations of the Fair Chance Act, which seeks to reduce barriers to employment for individuals with criminal histories, often called the “ban the box” law. The DFEH will utilize technology to conduct mass searches of online job advertisements to ensure compliance with the Act. According to the DFEH, a one-day review of such advertisements found more than 500 job advertisements with unlawful statements (i.e., that the employer will not consider any applicants with a criminal record). The DFEH already is sending notices to offending employers to remove the unlawful statements. With this announcement, California appears to be the first to use technology to enforce ban the box laws.
It is not clear how this mass search approach works or whether there is an additional human review before notices and penalties are issued. Employers should carefully review their online job advertisements to ensure that they do not contain any potentially offending statements.