Bonta Bill to Reduce Barriers to Employment Reaches Governor’s Desk

Thursday, August 28, 2014

AB 2396 brings rehabilitated individuals back into the workforce instead of cycling them back into the criminal justice system

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) was proud to announce today that his bill to reduce employment barriers for people with criminal records who have been rehabilitated passed the Legislature with bipartisan support and now heads to Governor Brown for his consideration. 

“AB 2396 would expand opportunities for rehabilitated individuals to pursue meaningful employment and work towards entering the middle class instead of struggling in low-wage jobs or returning to crime,” said Assemblymember Bonta.  “AB 2396 reduces barriers to employment by prohibiting any licensing entity within the Department of Consumer Affairs from denying a license solely on the basis of a dismissed criminal conviction."

“Current law is fundamentally unfair to individuals who have been rehabilitated by the justice system,” Bonta explained. “Thousands of people who have completed probation, paid their fines and restitution, and been pronounced rehabilitated are unable to find employment because licensing boards are considering a dismissed conviction that is irrelevant to their ability to perform the job.”

Boards under the Department of Consumer Affairs regulate the licensures of a wide variety of professions.  Licensees regulated by these boards include automotive repair technicians, barbers and cosmetologists, real estate agents and appraisers, occupational therapists, and many others.  Licensure in these professions can enable an individual to become self-sufficient and enter the middle class.

Getting a conviction dismissed is a time consuming and difficult process and is only available to those who have completed probation and paid all restitution and fines.  Dismissal is unavailable to those who have committed certain crimes, including most sex offenses. 

“Despite the state’s rigorous standards for dismissing a conviction, licensing boards may use the dismissed conviction as the sole reason for denying a license. When applying for employment with a private company, applicants are not required to disclose a dismissed record as part of the hiring process.  Licensing boards should similarly reward rehabilitation and help reduce recidivism by precluding consideration of dismissed convictions,” Bonta concluded.

See AB 2396 for the full text of the bill.