Georgia Passes Second Chance Employment Bill

Set to take effect January 1, 2021, the bill affords individuals the opportunity to remove certain convictions from a criminal record based on accruing a successful number of "conviction-free" years.

Senate Bill 288 (Expanding Restriction & Sealing of Convictions in Georgia) permits an individual of any age to petition an original sentencing court to restrict and seal the record of a misdemeanor offense four years after the sentence has been completed. This petition can only be lodged providing the individual has not been convicted of a new offense during those four years and no charges are pending.

Courts will take into account the harm to the individual versus the public's interest in knowing about the conviction when determining whether or not to grant the petition. Once sealed, the individual's criminal history record information will no longer be available to private persons or businesses. However, certain offenses (i.e. sex crimes against children, family violence battery, sexual battery, etc.) are excluded entirely from eligibility for consideration under the bill.

Additionally, the bill offers employers significant liability protection for engaging in "second chance hiring." Georgia employers who hire individuals with a criminal history record that is restricted and sealed will be protected from a negligent hiring or retention claim in a civil proceeding.

Employers are encouraged to review Georgia SB 288 in detail to understand the specific details regarding the allowances and limitations of the bill.

Posted: June 15, 2021

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