City of Gainesville, Florida Passes "Fair Chance Hiring" Ordinance

In December 2022, the city passed a "Ban the Box" law prohibiting employers with 15 or more staff members from asking questions about criminal history during the application process.

While questions about criminal history during the application process are generally impermissible, employers are permitted to conduct a criminal background check once a conditional job offer has been made. However, employers may only take "adverse action" based on an applicant's criminal history if the applicant is deemed unsuitable for the position based on an "individual assessment."

If adverse action is taken based on the subject's criminal history, the employer is required to give the subject:

  • a written copy of the decision;
  • a copy of the report; and
  • an opportunity to offer information/context about the criminal history and/or any related rehabilitation.

It is important to note that the following statement must be included in the written notice to an applicant:

"This notice is provided in accordance with the City of Gainesville Code of Ordinances, Chapter 14.5, Section 14.5-181, which regulates the process and timing of criminal background checks conducted on job applicants."

Violations of the ordinance carry a potential civil penalty of $500. Half of all recovered penalties will be awarded to the complainant.

Employers are encouraged to review the specific terms of the Gainesville law and adjust internal hiring processes as needed.

Posted: January 27, 2023

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