AN ACT TO BAN THE BOX FOR EMPLOYMENT AND PROHIBIT HOUSING DISCRIMINATION BASED UPON A PERSON'S CRIMINAL HISTORY DURING THE COVID-19 EMERGENCY AND TO APPROPRIATE FUNDS.
Sunsets the following provisions on the earlier of the date the Governor rescinds Executive Order No. 116 (Declaration of a State of Emergency to Coordinate Response and Protective Actions to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19), or March 1, 2021.
Defines the following terms as they apply in this act: (1) criminal history means a state or federal history of conviction for a misdemeanor or felony relevant to an applicant's fitness for public employment but does not include a record of arrest that did not result in a conviction; (2) employer means the State, its agencies or political subdivisions, and any person in the State employing four or more individuals, any person acting in the interest of an employer, or any person undertaking for compensation to procure employees or opportunities for employment; (3) hiring authority means the person, board, commission, or department of the State responsible by law for the hiring of persons for public employment; and (4) public employment means any job, work for pay, or employment, including seasonal or temporary work, where the State or any local political subdivision of the State is the employer.
Prohibits an employer or hiring authority from (1) asking about or considering or requiring the disclosure of the criminal history of an applicant for employment, or (2) including such an inquiry on any initial employment application form until the hiring authority has made a conditional offer of employment to the applicant. Declares that this does not apply to positions where the employer or hiring authority is required by law to consider the applicant's criminal record. Provides that nothing in this act is to be construed to prevent any employer or hiring authority in its discretion from adopting the provisions of this act.
Prohibits any person from being disqualified for employment solely or in part because of a previous conviction unless the conviction is determined to be substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of the position after all of the following factors are considered: (1) the level and seriousness of the crime; (2) the date of the crime; (3) the age of the person at the time of the crime; (4) the circumstances surrounding the commission of the crime; (5) the connection between the criminal conduct and the duties of the position; (6) the prison, jail, probation, parole, rehabilitation, and employment records of the person since the date the crime was committed; and (7) the subsequent commission of a crime by the person. Clarifies that an arrest record that did not result in a conviction, convictions that have been sealed, dismissed, or expunged, and infractions or misdemeanors for which no jail sentence can be imposed cannot be the basis for disqualification from employment.
Requires an employer or hiring authority to inform an individual of a potential adverse hiring decision based on a prior conviction and provide the applicant an opportunity to provide evidence that the applicant was not correctly identified in the criminal history report, evidence that the report is incorrect or inaccurate, or evidence of mitigation or rehabilitation.
Requires the employer or hiring authority to provide the applicant written notice of the conviction(s) that are the basis for the potential denial, a copy of the applicant's criminal history, and examples of mitigation or rehabilitation evidence that the applicant can provide, all prior to a final hiring decision. Grants applicants five business days from receipt of these materials to respond, and requires the employer or hiring authority to wait to make a final hiring decision until after the applicant has failed to respond or after reviewing the applicant's timely response.
Requires an employer or hiring authority to give an applicant written notice of a denial based solely or in part of a prior conviction and include the fact of the denial, the grounds for the denial, and any complaint or grievance procedure available.
Places responsibility to receive, investigate, and respond to alleged violations of the act with the Attorney General's Office. Provides for right to apply for injunction in superior court and identifies proper venue. Allows the Attorney General's Office to delegate this authority.
Requires State and political subdivisions to contract with businesses that comply with the act, but does not require either to breach existing contracts.
Exempts from the above provisions the hiring practices for: law enforcement officers; security service positions; State court positions; positions at corrections facilities in the State; positions at medical facilities in the State; positions who maintain or distribute controlled substances; positions that provide direct supervision of minors; and positions that provide direct support to the any of these described positions. Allows for employers or hiring authorities to adopt the hiring practices of this act.
Requires employers and hiring authorities to maintain hiring records for two years, which must be available to the Attorney General's Office. Deems the records confidential and not public record.
Deems the act's provisions to supersede any conflicting laws and rules. Provides a savings clause for valid proceedings regarding public employment.
Requires all provisions of GS 41A-4, which details unlawful discriminatory housing practices, to also include prohibiting discrimination against an individual based on the individual's criminal history. Defines criminal history to mean information transmitted orally or in writing or by any other means, and obtained from any source regarding one or more convictions or arrests, a conviction that has been sealed, dismissed, vacated, expunged, voided, invalidated, or otherwise rendered inoperative by judicial action or by statute; a determination or adjudication in the juvenile justice system; a matter considered in or processed through the juvenile justice system; or participation in or completion of a diversion or a deferral of judgment program. Excludes circumstances where State or federal law requires consideration of criminal history.
Appropriates $130,952 in recurring funds from the General Fund to the specified legal services fund code of the Department of Justice for the 2020-21 fiscal year to fund one attorney position to receive, investigate, and respond to complaints alleging violations of Part I of the act. Effective July 1, 2020.
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