By Tom Jardim
We recently wrote a blog post about the passage of the “Opportunity to Compete Act” in New Jersey, making the State the 17th state to adopt a so-called “ban the box” law. These laws aim to prohibit companies from obtaining information from job applicants about their criminal records. At the time of that post, over 100 cities and counties around the country had adopted a form of this law.
On June 29, 2015, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the City’s own “Ban the Box” ordinance, which previously passed the New York City Council on a nearly unanimous vote. New York City’s law, which takes effect on October 27, 2015, applies to any employer with four or more employees.
Like other ban the box laws, New York City’s law prohibits employers from inquiring into the criminal history of an applicant or conducting any criminal history search until after a conditional offer of employment is made. In addition, under the law, if, after receiving information regarding the applicant’s criminal record, the employer no longer wants to employ the applicant, the employer must explain why and provide a copy of the record. The applicant is then allowed at least three business days to respond and, during that time, the employer must hold the position open for the applicant.
New York employers already are prohibited by law from using unrelated convictions when making employment decisions. In New York State, it is illegal under for employers to discriminate based on criminal convictions. The New York State law requires employers to look to see if there is a connection between the conviction and the job applied for, rather than summarily denying the applicant simply because he or she has a criminal record of any kind. While this law does not ban employers from asking about convictions before interviewing a potential hire (like the New York City law now does), it encourages employers to evaluate the individual conviction, thus increasing the chances for a person to get hired despite the conviction.
New York City employers should make sure they comply with the new criminal background check law prior to its effective date. Separately, employers should also make sure they are aware of and comply with New York City’s new credit history check law, which makes it illegal for a New York City employer to request or use an individual’s credit history in making employment decisions. That law goes into effect on September 3, 2015.
If your business is in New York, contact us if you have any questions.