As of June 10, 2015, New York City has officially become the largest city in the nation to “ban the box,” with the passing of the Fair chance Act (“FCA” or “Intro 318”) by the New York City Council. Even more recently on June 30, 2015, Mayor Bill de Blasio officially signed the FCA into law and the law has been in effect as of October 27, 2015.
New York City is now part of the ever-growing list of a hundred cities in seventeen states that have recognized certain boundaries to place on employers in the hiring process. With this “banning,” employers (both in the private and public sector) are no longer allowed to inquire about any criminal record history until after a conditional job offer has been offered. Thus, the “box” that requires potential job candidates to check if they have a previous criminal history will no longer hold any weight. The FCA gives job applicants with a criminal history a somewhat fair playing field when being considered for a job based on their experience and qualifications rather than their criminal record.
This does not mean that employers are required to hire potential candidates with a criminal history; it merely delays the hiring process until the employer makes a conditional job offer. An employer can still inquire about a candidate’s criminal record after the job offer has been made, such as conducting a background check, and is not prohibited from asking about criminal convictions at a later stage in the hiring process. If an employer then chooses to withdraw the offer, the candidate must be given a written explanation by the employer regarding their decision, which must include the existing New York law that prohibits discrimination based on criminal records. Moreover, the position must be held open for three days so the employer can discuss the candidate’s evidence of good conduct and the employer’s requirements. Also, applicants can still contest an employer’s decision.
Many employers are also exempt from the law. Exempt employers include: employers with fewer than four employees, employers hiring for certain licensed trades or professions and employers hiring for particular positions that past convictions bar their employment to that position under New York State or Federal Law. Additionally, employers that are legally required to run background checks, e.g. daycares and home health aides, still must abide by these regulations.
As for employers in New York City, this new act should be considered when instituting your business policies in order to conform to the new law. Employers should take note of this new act and immediately reconsider or update their hiring policies, review the terms of the new law, or consult an attorney to help with this process.
For more on the Fair Chance Act visit: https://fairchancenyc.wordpress.com/
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