Colorado's Chance to Compete Act prevents employers from asking about criminal history on a job application.

One-third of the adult working population has a criminal record, which makes for a shallow hiring pool if employers are judging on the basis of criminal past. For Coloradans who've had a brush with the law, and are worried about their job prospects, the latest action in state legislation, the Colorado Chance to Compete Act, should provide a wave of relief when it comes to finding a steady job.

What's the Colorado Chance to Compete Act?

Sponsored by Rep. Mike Foote, Rep. Jovan Melton, and Sen. Lucia Guzman, this Act expands the "ban the box" law to assist over 1.5 million Coloradans that are in the state criminal database obtain gainful employment. Hiring those with a criminal history is shown to reduce repeat offenses and add more income stability.

According to the Colorado Chance to Compete Act, on and after September 1, 2019, an employer with 11 or more employees, and on and after September 1, 2021, all employers, are not allowed to:

  • State in an advertisement for an employment position that a person with a criminal history may not apply for the position
  • State on any form of application, including electronic applications, for an employment position that a person with a criminal history may not apply for the position
  • Inquire into, or require disclosure of, an applicant’s criminal history on an initial written or electronic application form

criminal background check form

What's Considered "Criminal History"?

Criminal history is the record of arrests, charges, pleas, or convictions for any misdemeanor or felony at the federal, state, or local level. 

Are There Exceptions to the Colorado Chance to Compete Act?

While employers are prevented from asking about criminal history, they can still perform a publicly-available background check of an applicant at any time. As it stands, the Act is exempt from the following conditions:

  • Federal, state, or local laws or regulations exist that prohibit employing a person with a specific criminal history to that position
  • The position is designated by the employer to participate in a federal, state, or local government program to encourage the employment of people with criminal histories
  • The employer is required by federal, state, or local law or regulation to conduct a criminal history record check for that position

What if an Employer Violates This Act?

According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, "a person who has witnessed, suffered from, or been injured by a perceived violation can file a complaint for an alleged violation of the Act, and the Division of Labor Standards and Statistics accepts anonymous complaints." If you fall within these categories, complaints can be filed on the Division's website.

The times are changing these days when it comes to hiring, and having a checkered past does not mean that your only hope for employment involves flipping burgers. In fact, employers are actually getting tax credits for hiring those with criminal backgrounds. One mistake 15 years ago should not have to mean an end to all opportunities and personal advancement.