Federal law does not prohibit employers from asking about criminal history.
Federal EEO laws do prohibit employers from discriminating when they use criminal history information. Using criminal history information to make employment decisions may violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended (Title VII).
Title VII prohibits employers from treating people with similar criminal records differently because of their race, national origin, or another Title VII-protected characteristic (which includes color, sex, and religion
Title VII prohibits employers from using policies or practices that screen individuals based on criminal history information if:
They significantly disadvantage Title VII-protected individuals such as African Americans and Hispanics; AND
They do not help the employer accurately decide if the person is likely to be a responsible, reliable, or safe employee.
The following examples of fair and unfair inquiries apply when made in reference to job application forms, preemployment interviews, or any other type of inquiry made of job applicants. The rules also apply to inquiries made to persons other than an applicant and to inquiries made by third parties such as a credit reporting service. The rules do not apply after a person is employed. See WAC 162-12-180.
(2) Employers and employment agencies shall comply with these rules except where one or more of the following conditions exist:
(a) When there is a "bona fide occupational qualification."
(b) A voluntary affirmative action plan that is in compliance with the requirements of a government agency or other competent authority such as a court, and if made in a manner provided in WAC 162-12-160 and 162-12-170.
(c) A requirement of federal law or regulation, as explained in WAC 162-12-150.
If one or more of the above conditions apply, the inquiries of employers and employment agencies must be accompanied by a written explanation of their purpose. See WAC 162-12-135, 162-12-160 and 162-12-170.
(3) The link provides examples of fair and unfair preemployment inquiries define what is an unfair practice under RCW 49.60.180(4) and 49.60.200. These examples, however, are not all inclusive. All preemployment inquiries that unnecessarily elicit the protected status of a job applicant are prohibited by these statutes irrespective of whether or not the particular inquiry is covered in this regulation
Prohibited Job Advertisements
Prohibits job ads that exclude applicants with conviction and arrest records by using language such as “Felons need not apply”, “No criminal background” or “Clean background check required”.
Prevents adverse action based on arrest record
Requires reasonable opportunity to explain/correct criminal history information
Keep in mind that conviction records are not always correct
Requires legitimate business reason for adverse action based solely on criminal record such as:
Will have negative impact on employee’s fitness for a position
Will create unreasonable risk of harm to people, property, reputation, or business.