Insight

Connecticut’s “Clean Slate” Act Could Bolster State Workforce

Best Lawyers weighs in on Connecticut's newly enacted Clean Slate Act and how it's changing the state's employment landscape.

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GS

Gregory Sirico

April 7, 2023 12:00 AM

On January 1, 2023, almost two years after state lawmakers proposed it, Connecticut's Governor Ned Lamont signed Public Act No. 21-32, or the "Clean Slate" Act, into law. Once enacted, the law dissolved roughly 44,000 low-level drug convictions, specifically cannabis possession, as a part of the state's automated erasure system launch. The law grants automatic erasure for any class D or E felony convictions between 2000 and September 30, 2015, or 10 years after the court's last judgment of the individual in question.

With that, the Clean Slate law's provisions for automatic erasure only affect individuals with misdemeanors or low-level felony records. They will not apply to those convicted of sexual offenses, domestic violence or firearm-related crimes. With parts of the law still waiting to take effect, there are many changes state employers must prepare for to remain compliant with future employment and hiring practices.

It's so important that as people come out of our corrections system, they have the opportunities to make use of job training programs."

Even before the Clean Slate Act was successfully passed, Connecticut already had conviction-based employment legislation set in place. In 2016, state lawmakers enacted the "Ban-the-Box" law, which prohibited employers from denying individual employment solely based on that applicant's prior arrests, criminal charges or convictions listed on an application. Additionally, any job application containing questions concerning criminal history must include a notice notifying the applicant that they are not required to disclose any information. The Clean Slate Act expands upon these provisions by not only applying to prospective applicants but also current employees by prohibiting employers from discriminating against individuals with an expunged criminal record.

"This is really great news for employers because there are 100,000 open jobs and not enough people to take those jobs. It's so important that as people come out of our corrections system, they have the opportunities to make use of job training programs. It is a small step, but an important step to start erasing disparities, segregation and inequities that still exist in our state," stated Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, as reported by the Hartford Business Journal.

According to state lawmakers, employers who violate the provisions of the Clean State Act may face discriminatory practice claims, severe monetary fines or an employee-filed complaint that could bring about legal action in the Connecticut Superior Court. Sooner rather than later, Connecticut-based employers should consider the impact these laws will have on longstanding employment structures by briefing all personnel involved, namely those responsible for hiring, interviewing and onboarding. With that, employers may need to also review and revise their current equal employment opportunity policies and any active job applications to fit the new law's criteria.
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