Seattle's Fair Chance Employment Ordinance

Seattle's Fair Chance Employment Ordinance went into effect on
November 1, 2013.

Questions or want to report a violation? Email us.

Beginning November 1, 2013, a new Seattle law (SMC 14.17) restricts how employers can use conviction and arrest records during the hiring process and course of employment within City limits.

Increased employment opportunities will reduce recidivism, reduce racial disparities in the criminal justice system and strengthen our community.

The 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.

The Fair Chance Employment Ordinance received a name change from Job Assistance (JAO) to Fair Chance Employment (FCE) on January 16, 2016.

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Employer extensions available on request

Upon the written request of an employer, the Director of the Seattle Office of Labor Standards (OLS) has the authority to extend the implementation date of the Fair Chance Employment 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:

Dylan Orr, Director
Seattle Office of Labor Standards
810 Third Avenue, Suite 750
Seattle, WA 98104

Assistance for Employers

OLS is responsible for outreach and enforcement of this law. OLS offers a range of resources to help with compliance, including free technical assistance, and group presentations.

Contact us: Email or call (206) 684-4500.

Assistance for Job Applicants and Employees

OLS enforces the Fair Chance Employment 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.

File Complaint about Fair Chance Employment Ordinance

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Rules & Ordinances


Last updated: 02/02/2016