Fair Chance Employment Ordinance

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

The Fair Chance Employment Ordinance 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.

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

Assistance for Job Applicants and Workers

The Office of Labor Standards (OLS) enforces the Fair Chance Employment Ordinance. If you feel the law has been violated, you can report a violation to our office. Upon request, we will take steps to prevent disclosure of your name and other identifying information during and after the investigation. Our office must receive complaints and initiate investigations within three years of the date of the alleged incident. OLS also provides free information, training, and assistance on the law.

Publications and Resources

Labor Standards Guides

Fact Sheets

Questions & Answers (Q&A)

Note: Our Q&A documents are being revised to reflect recent changes to Seattle's labor standards laws. The revised Q&As will be posted soon. Until then, please review the changes to these ordinances and consider them when reading the current posted Q&A. If you have a specific question, email laborstandards@seattle.gov.

View Publications & Resources

Watch Videos About Fair Chance Employment

Rules and Ordinances

View Rules & Ordinances

The Office of Labor Standards has jurisdiction within Seattle city limits.

If your situation does not qualify for investigation by us, we will refer you to another agency for help.

Map showing Seattle city boundaries

Questions? Contact Us