HR update: How legislation will affect how we recruit new employees

By Forrest Flinn

Recruiting in a powersports dealership is challenging enough, and now a new bill making its way through the California legislature could in fact make it even more challenging. This new bill, referred to as A.B. 1008, could drastically have an impact on a dealership’s recruitment and selection process.

There is an old saying that says “As California goes, so goes the country.” But interestingly enough similar types of legislation have been popping up all around the country.

It all started with “Ban-the-Box” legislation which requires employers to eliminate any questions as to an applicant’s criminal background on an employment application.

But A.B 1008 takes ban-the box rules further. If this employment legislation becomes reality in the state of California dealers could look forward to following new rules when it comes to recruiting and selecting potential employees:

  • This new legislation would prevent you from asking on your employment application, whether printed or online, any type of question or inquiry of the potential employees’ criminal record.
  • You will not be allowed by law to ask questions about or inquire through third parties any type of criminal history during the interview process. You may inquire about a potential employees’ criminal background only after a “conditional offer of employment” has been offered. What this means is that only after you have decided that you want to hire a candidate, and an offer has been made, that you can delve into their criminal history.
  • You will not be able to consider, distribute, or disseminate information that California already prohibits such as arrest records that did not result in a conviction, misdemeanor convictions where the potential candidate received no jail time, or infractions or misdemeanor convictions for which three years have passed, as well as felony convictions for which seven years have pass since the date the candidate was convicted.

That is a lot to consider right? You bet! But there is more!

If A.B 1008 passes in the state of California, then if a dealer decides to decline employment to a potential candidate because of their criminal background, then the dealer must conduct an assessment as to whether the applicant’s criminal history would have a direct and or adverse impact on the job that they were applying for. The dealer would then have to consider the gravity and the nature of the criminal charge, the time that has passed since the criminal charge happened, and the nature of the job that the applicant was applying for.

Wow, right? There is even more!

If a dealer, after complying with the law, still denies employment based on an applicant’s criminal history, then the dealer must notify the applicant and follow a very lengthy process that resembles what a lender has to go through when denying a person credit. This process will require that you notify the applicant with the specific reasons of why you made your employment decision. In addition, the newly proposed law would require you to offer a process by where the applicant can challenge your decision through an appeals process that could ultimately allow the denied applicant the right to lodge a complaint against your dealership with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

Why is all of this happening?

The purpose of all of this new legislation, as it applies to the criminal backgrounds of potential employees, is to discourage discrimination believe it or not.

Would you hire an ex-con?

Many dealerships in this country have given second chances to employees with less than stellar criminal backgrounds and were very happy that they did. Some dealers have strict rules on hiring anyone with any type of criminal background and I think dealers with this point of view are being very shortsighted.

I know of one dealer who hired what I call a top-notch sales manager, experienced in all industry best practices on the showroom floor, who had a prison record for a non-violent felony that occurred many years ago. This particular sales manager is one of the best that I know and to this very day adds exceptional value to this dealer’s bottom line! This particular employee would still be underemployed and not reaching his full potential if this dealer had not hired him.

And on a sidenote, one of my mentor’s in this industry had told me once that if you give person a second chance then the odds are that this person will be the best and most loyal employee that you will ever have.

Even if A.B. 1008 in California does not pass in its current form, you need to reexamine how you feel about employing folks with criminal backgrounds and how it affects society. You could be unknowingly contributing to the discrimination that already exists in this county. You never know if you don’t open your mind and your heart. Your dealership’s next superstar, who has already paid their debt to society, may be being overlooked by outdated dealership employment philosophies.

Just food for thought.

Forrest Flinn, MBA, PHR, SMS has been in the motorcycle industry for more than 20 years and has been a true student and leader serving in various capacities. He previously worked as an implementation consultant for Lightspeed and as a general manager with P&L responsibility for a large metro multi-line dealership. Currently Forrest is the managing partner and chief visionary for a consulting firm that specializes in outsourced accounting, human resources, social media strategy, dealership operations consulting and Lightspeed/EVO training.


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