Washington Fair Chance Act

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The Washington Fair Chance Act, chapter 49.94 RCW, became effective June 7, 2018, and prohibits employers from asking employment applicants about arrests or convictions before determining whether an applicant is otherwise qualified for a position. Washington joined at least 24 other states which have adopted similar laws limiting an employer’s ability to inquire into an applicant’s criminal history during the application stage.

In practice, there are several things the Act prohibits employers from doing:

  • An employer may not include any question relating to criminal history on an application for employment, inquire about an applicant's criminal history, or obtain information about an applicant's criminal record, until after the employer initially determines that the applicant is otherwise qualified for the position.
  • An employer may not advertise job openings in a way that excludes people with criminal records from applying. Ads that state "no felons" or "no criminal background" or convey similar messages are prohibited.