State of Washington to “Ban-the-Box” on Criminal Records in June 2018

(Last Updated On: February 12, 2019)

Criminal Records

Special Announcement to all State of Washington employers:

Effective June 7, 2018, the State of Washington will impose a law that restricts employers in the state from asking about and using criminal record information. Specifically, it adds a new chapter to Title 49 RCW for the purpose of prohibiting employers from asking about criminal records or convictions before an applicant is eligible for a position.

Under the law, the following restrictions will apply:

Sec 1: The definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter unless the context clearly requires otherwise.

  1. “Criminal records” includes any record about a citation or arrest for criminal conduct, including records relating to probable cause to arrest, and includes any record about a criminal or juvenile case filed with any court, whether or not the case resulted in a finding of guilt.
  2. “Employer” includes public agencies, private individuals, businesses and corporations, contractors, temporary staffing agencies, training and apprenticeship programs, and job placement, referral, and employment agencies.
  3. “Otherwise qualified” means that the applicant meets the basic criteria for the position as set out in the advertisement or job description without consideration of a criminal record.

Sec 2:

  1. An employer may not include any question on any application for employment, inquire either orally or in writing, receive information through a criminal record check, or otherwise obtain information about an applicant’s criminal record until after the employer initially determines that the applicant is otherwise qualified for the position. Once the employer has initially determined that the applicant is otherwise qualified, the employer may inquire into or obtain information about a criminal record.
  2. An employer may not advertise employment openings in a way that excludes people with criminal records from applying. Ads that state “no felons,” “no criminal record,” or otherwise convey similar messages are prohibited.
  3. An employer may not implement any policy or practice that automatically or categorically excludes individuals with criminal records from consideration prior to an initial determination that the applicant is otherwise qualified for the position. Prohibited policies and practices include rejecting an applicant for failure to disclose a criminal record prior to initially determining the applicant is otherwise qualified for the position.
  4. This section does not apply to:

(a) Any employer hiring a person who will or may have unsupervised access to children under the age of eighteen, a vulnerable adult as defined in chapter 74.34 RCW, or a vulnerable person as defined in RCW 9.96A.060;

(b) Any employer, including a financial institution, who is expressly permitted or required under any federal or state law to inquire into, consider, or rely on information about an applicant’s or employee’s criminal record for employment purposes;

(c) Employment by a general or limited authority Washington law enforcement agency as defined in RCW 10.93.020 or by a criminal justice agency as defined in RCW 10.97.030(5)(b)

(d) An employer seeking a nonemployee volunteer; or

(e) Any entity required to comply with the rules or regulations of a self-regulatory organization, as defined in section 3(a)(26) of the securities and exchange act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. 78c(a)(26).

The full text of the law can be found here: SECOND SUBSTITUTE HOUSE BILL 1298

This law will require a review of the hiring process in place and may require changes to that process. In order to comply with this law, Justifacts recommends that you consult with your legal department. This will help your company determine what changes, if any, need to be made to your hiring process.


It is important to note that Justifacts is providing this information as a service to our clients. None of the information contained herein should be construed as legal advice, nor is Justifacts engaged to provide legal advice. We go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful. We recommend you consult your attorney or legal department if you want assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation.


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