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NYC Litigation Blog

Monday, October 14, 2019

Colorado Leads the Nation in Employment Law Reform

What reforms may be adopted nationwide to prevent discrimination against prospective employees?

Nationwide, there has been increasing focus on leveling the playing field for prospective employees. Traditionally, groups like women and individuals with criminal records have experienced discrimination in the hiring process. Colorado has led the way in implementing new laws aimed at reducing the pay gap between men and women, as well as helping those with criminal history find a job. It seems likely other states will soon mirror Colorado’s strides forward. Our NYC employment discrimination lawyers discuss Colorado’s new laws and what they could mean for job seekers in New York.

Investigating Fingerprint Records

Colorado became the first state to pass a law that mandates employers do some research when using fingerprint-based criminal records this past April.  The law requires that employers look at whether an individual whose fingerprints reflect a criminal record was actually convicted of the crime. Often, fingerprint databases will not reveal whether someone was convicted or just arrested of a crime. Without additional research on the part of the employer, candidates without a felony or misdemeanor record may be rejected. Per the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, employers are not allowed to exclude candidates due to their arrest records.

Clean Slate Laws

Colorado additionally passed so-called clean slate legislation, which will seal certain criminal records from the public eye. The law is aimed at assisting those with a criminal past in finding employment, which cuts down on recidivism rates in the state. Per the new law, individuals with some non-violent convictions can apply to have their records sealed. Colorado’s new laws are expected to greatly increase the odds that those with a criminal record will be able to find meaningful work.

Eliminating the Criminal Record Box

Along the lines of the clean slate laws, Colorado has also adopted the Chance to Compete Act.  This law will limit when employers can ask job candidates about their criminal records. Currently, employers with 11 or more employees will be limited in what they can ask, and in 2021 it will apply to all employers.

As Colorado leads the nation in employment law reform, other states are taking notice. It is likely that if Colorado sees success in assisting those with a criminal record in finding employment, other states will likely follow suit.

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