Bill Designed to Give Former Criminals Second Chances Signed Into Law

By Jason Van Arkel, April 18, 2019

Governor Kim Reynolds this week signed into law HF 650, a bill to protect employers from liability when they hire employees who have previous criminal records. The bill was designed to make it easier for those with prior offenses to find employment.

“This bill opens doors for Iowans who deserve a second chance by protecting the job creators extending a helping hand,” the governor said. “I am proud that this legislation received the unanimous support of legislators. It also helps our state build a stronger workforce for the more than 35,000 open jobs across Iowa.”

Under the new law, if an employer hires a person with a criminal record, that employer cannot be sued for negligently hiring the employee only on the basis of those past convictions. The hope is that by removing that legal risk for employers, they will be less likely to turn away potential employees who, as the governor said, deserve a second chance to be a part of society.

The new law does come with some exceptions. Employers would not be protected from being sued under this law if they were to hire someone convicted of first-degree or second-degree murder, any violent sexual offense, felony assault, domestic abuse assault, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree robbery, or use of a dangerous weapon to commit a felony.

The law also does not protect employers who hire someone that was convicted of a crime while performing duties that are “substantially similar” to the duties that person would be performing in the new job. In addition, HF 650 specifically states that employers wouldn’t be protected from lawsuits if they hire someone who had been convicted of fraud or misuse of funds, and employed that person in a job where he or she would be managing funds or property.


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