Prince George’s Council Enacts Criminal Records Bill

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Legislation that will limit how and when employers in Prince George’s County may conduct criminal background checks of prospective employees unanimously passed the Prince George’s County Council after AOBA and business allies worked with the bill sponsor to adopt important amendments. As enacted, CB-78-2014 is similar to Bill 36-14 that was earlier enacted by the Montgomery County Council.

The bill as originally introduced presented significant problems for businesses, by precluding consideration of an applicant’s criminal history until after a conditional job offer had been made by an employer. The bill also would have delayed the hiring process and exposed employers to lawsuits from job applicants and employees suffering an “adverse action.”

At the urging of AOBA and related business allies, the bill was amended to allow criminal history to be discussed at the conclusion of a first interview. Amendments also limited application of the bill to employers with 25 or more full-time employees in the County and removed references to “adverse actions”, which would have been used as a basis to sue employers.

When the bill is effective in mid-January of 2015, employers in Prince George’s County will be prohibited from requiring a job applicant to disclose on an employment application the existence or details of the applicant’s arrest record or conviction record. At the conclusion of a first interview, an employer may inquire whether the applicant has a criminal history record or conduct a criminal record check. An employer may only consider specific offenses that may demonstrate unfitness to perform the duties of the position, the time elapsed since the offenses occurred, and any inaccuracy in the record.

If an employer intends to rescind an offer of employment based on an item in the applicant’s arrest or conviction record, before rescinding the offer, the employer must (1) provide the applicant with a copy of the criminal record report; (2) notify the applicant of the intention to rescind the offer and the items that are the basis for rescinding the offer; and (3) delay rescinding the offer of employment for seven days to permit the applicant the opportunity to give the employer notice of inaccuracy of items in the criminal record. If an employer rescinds an offer of employment based on the criminal record of an applicant, the applicant must be notified of the rescission in writing.