New Connecticut Statute Bars Employers from Inquiring About, or Taking Adverse Action as a Result of, Sealed or Expunged Conviction Records
Connecticut has adopted a new law regarding criminal history questions on job applications. To comply with the law, many Connecticut employers will find it necessary to revise their employment applications and their practices with respect to the maintenance and use of information regarding applicants’ criminal history.
Effective October 1, 2002, an employment application that requests information about an applicant’s past criminal records (arrests or convictions) must have a clear and conspicuous explanation stating that certain information need not be disclosed. Specifically, the statute requires that the following language be included in employment applications that ask about an applicant’s criminal history:
- The applicant is not required to disclose the existence of any arrest, criminal charge, or conviction, the records of which have been erased;
- Criminal records subject to erasure are records pertaining to a finding of delinquency or that a child was a member of a family with service needs, an adjudication as a youthful offender, a criminal charge that has been dismissed or nolled, a criminal charge for which the person has been found not guilty, or a conviction for which the person received an absolute pardon; and
- Any person whose criminal records have been erased pursuant to Connecticut law shall be deemed to have never been arrested within the meaning of the general statutes with respect to the proceeds so erased and may swear so under oath.
Likewise, if an applicant or employee is verbally asked about his or her criminal history, the employer must provide the same notices as set forth above. Moreover, the statute provides that an applicant or employee’s criminal history is to be accessible only by members of the personnel department, or by the individual in charge of employment or interviewing if there is no personnel department.
The statute also prohibits employers or their agents from denying employment to a prospective employee solely because of a prior arrest, criminal charge or conviction, the records of which have been erased. Similarly, the statute prohibits employers or their agents from discharging or in any manner discriminating against any employee solely because the employee had, prior to being employed by such employer, an arrest, criminal charge or conviction, the records of which have been erased.
Also effective October 1, 2002, Connecticut law provides employment protection for family members of homicide victims. Specifically, the law provides that an employer shall not deprive an employee of employment, or threaten or otherwise coerce such employee with respect thereto, because the employee, as a parent, spouse, child or sibling of a victim of homicide, attends court proceedings with respect to the criminal case of the person or persons charged with committing the crime that resulted in the death of the victim.
California employers should be aware that they are subject to similar legislation to the newly enacted Connecticut statute. Specifically, under California law, employment applications which inquire into felony convictions must inform applicants that they are not required to provide information about convictions that have been sealed, expunged or statutorily eradicated. New York employers may not ask applicants for information regarding an arrest not pending or a charge that did not result in a conviction. Also under New York law, an employer is not free to reject an applicant on the basis of his/her criminal record unless (1) there is a direct relationship between the offense and the job, or (2) hiring the person would pose an unreasonable risk. Thus, New York employment applications should advise applicants that a positive response to a question regarding felony convictions will not necessarily bar an applicant from employment.