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Seattle Job Assistance Ordinance

Use of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions

Beginning November 1, 2013, a new Seattle law (SMC 14.17) sets limits on how employers can use conviction and arrest records for jobs within City limits. Increased employment opportunities will reduce recidivism, reduce racial disparities in the criminal justice system and strengthen our community.

The new law:

  • Prohibits categorical exclusions in job ads (e.g. Does not allow statements like, “Felons need not apply.”)
  • Limits criminal history questions on job applications and criminal background checks until after an employer conducts an initial screening to eliminate unqualified applicants.
  • Requires employers to have a legitimate business reason to deny a job based on a conviction record.
  • Requires an opportunity for an applicant or employee to explain or correct criminal history information.
  • The law does not apply to jobs with unsupervised access to children under 16, individuals with developmental disabilities or vulnerable adults
  • Additional responsibilities and exceptions.

Seattle Job Assistance Ordinance – Opportunity works for Seattle


Employer extensions available on request

Upon the written request of an employer, the Director of the Seattle Office for Civil Rights has the authority to extend the implementation date of the Job Assistance Ordinance for a reasonable amount of time, to provide the employer time to make the necessary changes to their employment systems or forms.The employer must submit a request to the Director in writing and provide: a description of the changes necessary for compliance with the Ordinance; a process for adopting the changes; and a timeline for implementation.

The Director will review the request and respond in writing within ten business days. Requests for extensions should be directed to:

Patricia Lally, Director
Seattle Office for Civil Rights
810 Third Avenue, Suite 750
Seattle, WA 98104


Assistance for Employers

SOCR supports employers. The Seattle Office for Civil Rights is responsible for outreach and enforcement of this law. SOCR offers a range of resources to help with compliance, including free technical assistance and group presentations.

Contact us: ocr_criminalrecordsquestions@seattle.gov or call (206) 684-4500.


Assistance for Job Applicants and Employees

SOCR enforces the law. The Seattle Office for Civil Rights enforces the Seattle Job Assistance Ordinance. If you feel the law has been violated, you can file a charge with our office. Our services are free and impartial, and language and disability accommodations are available upon request. A charge must be filed within 180 days of the date of the alleged incident. The Seattle Office for Civil Rights also provides free information, training and assistance on the law. Contact us: OCR_Intake@seattle.gov, on-line questionnaire or call 206-684-4500.


General Information


Seattle Job Assistance Public Service Video Announcement

Seattle Job Assistance Public Service Announcement in Spanish

Seattle Job Assistance Public Service Announcement in Vietnamese

Seattle Job Assistance Public Service Announcement in Somali

Seattle Job Assistance Public Service Announcement in Mandarin