New guidelines regarding inquiries into expunged criminal records by employers, schools and administrative agencies go into effect December 1, 2013.
Having your criminal record expunged means that the government and law enforcement agencies no longer maintain the information in a data base. That did not, however, keep a potential employer or school from asking about expunctions on an application – that is until now.
In an effort to provide greater protections for those who receive expunctions, the governor recently signed into law a new statute that prohibits potential employers and educational institutions from requiring an applicant to disclose information about an arrest, criminal charge or conviction that has been expunged from the applicant’s record. The new law also prohibits these same folks from knowingly and willingly trying to get information about a criminal charge or conviction that they know has been expunged.
The importance of the first prohibition may be obvious. After all, what good is obtaining an expunction only to feel pressured into revealing the information that was expunged when asked by an employer or school?
The second prohibition is important because the state is not the only party that may have a copy of your criminal record. Third party reporting agencies are not routinely notified that a particular offense has been expunged. While you are able to have such information removed, you may not know who has the information buried in some database. Under the new law, an employer or school cannot go snooping for a record that they know has been expunged.
The law also requires state agencies, including those that issue occupational licenses, to first advise that the applicant is not required to reveal any arrest, charge or conviction that has been expunged before requesting information concerning the applicant’s criminal record. The only exception applies to those entities that hire, train and supervise members of law enforcement. As long as your license application is for work in some other profession, you no longer need to disclose any record that has been expunged, and your application cannot be denied solely for refusing to disclose any such information. Since criminal conduct can be grounds for rejection – most licensures require you to meet a good character standard – permission to keep the information secret is probably a good thing.
The law also contains some consequences for violating the new restrictions, though these are limited to potential employers. The first violation can result in a warning followed by a civil penalty of up to five hundred dollars for each subsequent violation. The law does not create a private cause of action against an employer, school or agency that violates the law. In other words, you won’t be able to sue because someone violated your right to keep the conduct a secret or because the information results in you not getting the job, education or license you wanted.