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New California law targets discrimination against ex-convicts

Discrimination of protected classes and other types of employees is bad for business. In a state with such a strong and diversified economy as California, smart employers know to include all possible points of view to maintain a vibrant and innovative workplace.

Fortunately, more attention has been paid to widespread discrimination against women in various industries that call the Golden State home. Racial discrimination, which often affects people of African, Latino and Asian descent, has also been brought to light more often as it happens. The governor of California recently addressed a less-considered type of discrimination.

Until recently, California and many other states allowed employers to question applicants about convictions and prison sentences that had been served. Now, the Golden State is one of 30 U.S. states that forbids public-sector employers from demanding this information. A new law makes California one of 10 states to forbid private employers from asking as well.

There are many arguments for checking the background of applicants to various jobs. But experts argue that demanding information about past convictions constitutes discrimination that cost employers and applicants alike. Employed ex-convicts are less likely to repeat criminal behavior and transition from costing society to benefiting it.

This new law creates new implications for people who find they have been unduly denied positions or have been dismissed due to assumptions about past criminal behavior or convictions. A legal representative may help employees, former employees and applicants fight back against discrimination and claim damages or reinstatement for sexual, racial or criminal discrimination.

Source: Governing, "Out of Jail, Into a Job," Timothy P. Silard, Dec. 18, 2017

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