Seattle Office of Labor Standards Marks Five-Year Anniversary of the Fair Chance Employment Ordinance with a Training at Pioneer Human Services

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The Seattle Office of Labor Standards (OLS) announces the five-year anniversary of Seattle’s Fair Chance Employment Ordinance (FCE), Seattle Municipal Code Chapter 14.17. The ordinance, which went into effect on November 1, 2013, restricts how Seattle employers may use conviction and arrest records during the hiring process and course of employment.

“The Fair Chance Employment Ordinance is in place to give people with criminal records a second chance. It helps remove work barriers and increase opportunities to find and hold jobs,” said OLS Director Martin S. Garfinkel. “Ultimately FCE strengthens our community by reducing both recidivism and racial disparity.”

Among other things, FCE:

  • prohibits job ads that exclude applicants with criminal records
  • requires a good faith, legitimate business reason to deny a job based on an individual’s criminal record
  • directs employers to give applicants and employees the chance to explain or correct criminal records

OLS has teamed up with Pioneer Human Services to provide the first FCE training for formerly incarcerated women to educate them about their labor rights, and to support their reentry into the workforce. Pioneer is a nonprofit organization that serves justice-involved individuals and those in recovery in need of treatment, housing, job skills training and employment.

“Having that box that asks about criminal histories removed from all job applications in the city has been a game changer for the people we serve,” adds Karen Lee, CEO of Pioneer Human Services. “They no longer have to worry about their application being rejected out of hand. It levels the playing field and allows them to be judged for their skills and abilities rather than by a past mistake.”

Nicholas Moreau, Assistant Director of Pioneer’s Fellowship House residential reentry center, stated, “We would like to thank our partners at the Office of Labor Standards. The road to reentry after incarceration is a difficult one and filled with many challenges when seeking employment. With the aid of the trainers from the Office of Labor Standards, we have been able to provide the tools to instill confidence in our residents.

Since 2017, OLS has conducted five labor standards trainings with a focus on FCE at Pioneer's offices in Seattle. OLS has investigated and substantiated allegations of FCE violations by ten Seattle employers, assessing nearly $4,000 in fines and penalties. Nine FCE investigations are currently underway.

For more information on the Fair Chance Employment Ordinance please visit our website or call 206-256-5297.

Please visit our website to learn more about our commitment to immigrants and refugees and available resources.

Contact: Cynthia Santana, Communications Manager, 206-256-5219  [email protected]

Friday, November 2, 2018