Some Crucial Information About SB 731

Some Crucial Information About SB 731

In the United States of America, between 70 million to 100 million people have some form of a criminal record. Being convicted of a crime can ruin a person’s life. For example, regardless of how long ago a person was convicted, a criminal conviction can affect a person’s ability to get a job. Employers conduct background checks and use the information they gather about a person’s criminal past when making hiring decisions. Fortunately for Californians, the state has taken steps to change that. Recently, the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, signed into law Senate Bill 731. This new law allows more people to have their felony convictions sealed. This new law takes effect on July 1, 2023.

What Does Existing Law Say About Employment Criminal Background Checks?

Existing law prevents employers with at least five employees from asking job applicants questions seeking the revelation of an applicant’s conviction history. The current law prevents employers with at least five employees from asking about or considering a job applicant’s conviction history before the applicant receives a conditional employment offer. Additionally, the existing law bars employers with five or more workers from considering or distributing certain types of criminal information while conducting a background check.

Under existing law, if an employer intends to deny someone a job, the employer must assess whether the criminal history will have a direct and adverse relationship with the job’s duties. An employer must also notify the applicant about their decision and give the applicant time to respond.

Under existing law, an individual is qualified to have their felony records sealed if they were arrested on or after January 1, 1973, and if the arrest was for a felony punishable in the county jail.

Summary of SB 731

Once Senate Bill 731 takes effect in July 2023, the automatic sealing eligibility will be available to people who have been convicted of a felony offense, including that felony which is punishable in the state prison, as specified. In other words, SB 731 makes automatic sealing eligibility available for people convicted of most felonies. SB 731 widens the conviction record relief for people found guilty of most felony crimes on or after the beginning of January 2005. However, it is vital to note that relief is only available if an individual has finished serving their jail time, supervision, probation, or another term of their conviction, and four years have passed during which they have not been found guilty of another felony offense. It is also crucial to note that SB 731 won’t apply to people required to register as sex offenders. 

SB 731 significantly restricts the kind of criminal records employers can legally access and depend on for hiring decisions. However, it is crucial to note that it is unclear how the court will treat cases where an employer can access records that should have been sealed. Employers accessing criminal records that should not be accessible is not an uncommon occurrence. 

Speak to a California Employment Lawyer

Contact a qualified California employment lawyer near you if you need more information on Senate Bill 731 or if an employer has refused to hire you for discriminatory reasons.