Effective December 20, 2021, the Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act of 2019 (“Fair Chance Act” or “Act”), which is part of the National Defense Authorization Act, prohibits:
- The federal government from requesting criminal history information from applicants before making a conditional job offer;
- Federal contractors from requiring that an individual or sole proprietor submitting a bid for a contract disclose their criminal history record information before determining to whom to award the contract; and
- Federal contractors from requesting verbally or in writing the disclosure of criminal history record information regarding an applicant for a position related to work under a contract before the contractor extends a conditional offer to the applicant.
Who Is Covered by the Act?
The Act covers all executive agencies (including cabinet agencies and the U.S. Postal Service, but not including the armed forces), the legislative branch, and the judicial branch of the federal government (other than judges, justices, and magistrates). It also applies to civilian agencies and defense contracts entered into with private employers.
Are There Exceptions to the Act?
The Fair Chance Act includes exceptions for:
- Law enforcement positions;
- Positions with national security duties;
- Jobs requiring access to classified information; and
- Positions which, by law, require a federal contractor or the federal government to obtain criminal history information before making a conditional job offer.
Next Steps for Employers
Impacted employers should review their recruitment and hiring practices, including job advertisements and employment applications to remove criminal history inquiries and train hiring managers and recruiters on the requirement of the law.