Washington State Implements Law Requiring Certain Employers to Review an Applicant's Prior Sexual Misconduct

Effective July 1, 2021, prior to extending an offer of employment, a postsecondary educational institution must request that the applicant's current and past post-secondary educational institution employers disclose any sexual misconduct committed by the applicant.1

Additionally, the postsecondary educational institution must ask the applicant if he or she is or was the subject of any substantiated findings of sexual misconduct, or is currently being investigated for, or has left a position during an investigation into, a violation of any sexual misconduct policy at the applicant's current and past employers. The applicant may be asked to provide an explanation of the situation.

A post-secondary educational institution with information about a past employee's sexual misconduct will be required to disclose such information during a reference or background check for employment purposes, even if the employer does not ask.

Additionally, RCW 28B.112.080 implements current requirements that became effective on October 1, 2020. These requirements mandate that an employer obtain a signed statement from an applicant with certain provisions. If the applicant refuses signature, the employer may not hire the applicant. The written provisions include:

  • A declaration whether the applicant is a current or former subject of sexual misconduct, is currently being investigated for sexual misconduct, or left during a violation of any sexual misconduct policy at a current or past employer
  • An authorization for the employer to contact past and current employers regarding any incident of sexual misconduct2
  • A release of liability for the applicant's current and past employers, and employees acting on behalf of that employer

By July 1, 2021, post-secondary educational institutions must have a procedure in place for disclosing information requested under RCW 28B.112.080. Post-secondary educational institutions are expected to keep all personal information of the complainant and any witnesses confidential, unless those individuals agree to disclose such information. The law may be accessed here.

Posted: March 24, 2021

1 See RCW 28B.112.080

2 Past and current employers will be required to provide any relevant documents.

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