Can I ask job applicants if they have ever been convicted of a crime?

No. California employers with five or more employees cannot​​:

  • Include on a job application any question that seeks disclosure of an applicant’s conviction history at any time before a conditional job offer has been made; or
  • Inquire into or consider the conviction history of an applicant until after a conditional offer of employment has been made.

This type of law is commonly referred to as a “ban-the-box” law, as it eliminates the frequently used criminal history check box found on many employment applications. There are exceptions for specific positions when the criminal background check is required by law.

Once you have made a conditional offer of employment, you may seek criminal history information if you follow specific process and notice requirements.

Review your job application forms, policies and practices and remove any criminal history “check box” or inquiries about conviction history. If you have a multi-state operation, be careful not to rely on applications from other states because they likely do not comply with California law. Never ask for criminal history information — or seek the information from any other source — before a conditional offer of employment.

You can find more information in the Restrictions on Obtaining Criminal History section in the HR Library.​