Washington Moves to Limit Criminal History Inquiries in Hiring

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By Paul Shukovsky

Employers in Washington state would be prohibited from asking about arrests or convictions before an applicant is determined qualified for a position under the provisions of a bill that passed the Legislature March 3.

The Washington Fair Chance Act, SSB 1298, passed with the support of majority Democrats in both chambers. It died in the Senate in the 2017 session when Republicans held the majority. If signed by Gov. Jay Inslee (D), Washington would join at least 24 other states that have adopted such laws, according to a Legislative staff analysis of the bill.

Employers hiring for positions that serve certain vulnerable people, as well as employers such as financial institutions and law enforcement, are exempted under the bill.

Tara Lee, the governor’s press secretary, said in an email March 5 the bill is still being reviewed by Inslee and his staff.

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