On June 10, 2015, the New York City Council approved a “Ban the Box” law that prohibits private employers from inquiring about applicants’ past criminal convictions until the point of a job offer. Although New York State already has a similar law which applies to city contractors and agencies, the new legislation, called The Fair Chance Act, extends these regulations to private employers. The policy applies to any employer with four or more employees that conducts business in New York City. Under the new law, an employer is not permitted to ask about criminal history and/or conduct a background check until a conditional job offer has been extended. If a company decides to withdraw the offer after learning of the applicant’s criminal history, it needs to give the applicant a written explanation of the decision. Further, the employer needs to hold the position open for three days to allow the applicant an opportunity to respond and provide any proof of rehabilitation.
The Fair Chance Act would not affect federal and state laws that allow employers in certain industries to consider applicants’ criminal histories, including law enforcement, positions of public trust, and jobs that entail working with children. Mayor De Blasio is expected to sign the bill in the coming weeks, and stated that “[t]his legislation seeks to actually open the door to jobs for people rather than damning them to no economic future.”
These new requirements take effect in 120 days following the law’s enactment. Employers in New York City should begin consulting with legal counsel to ensure that their hiring process forms, job applications and hiring policies are in compliance with the new legislation. Legal compliance should also include educating managers, supervisors and recruiting personnel regarding these new standards to ensure they are communicated throughout the organization.
For more information regarding this legislation and to learn how your business can implement best practices when hiring, please contact John C. Petrella, Director of the firm’s Employment Litigation Practice Group at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dina M. Mastellone, Esq., Director of the firm’s Human Resources Practice Group, at email@example.com or 973-533-0777.