The Fair Chance Act in New York

Criminal Background Checks for NY Job Applicants

The Fair Chance Act in New YorkThe Fair Chance Act also carries the nickname “ban the box.” This moniker came from a slogan used by civil rights groups. They campaigned to have the check box for criminal record removed from job applications. The motivation behind the campaign was to provide ex-offenders with greater opportunities to find jobs.

Guidelines Employers Must Follow

Under the Fair Chance Act, most employers in New York cannot ask a job applicant whether they have a criminal record when conducting a job interview. Job applications also must not ask whether the applicant has a criminal record.

This prohibition allows applicants to go through job interviews and be evaluated on their own merit. In addition, ads for jobs cannot state that applicants must pass a background  check or include phrases such as “no criminal record” or “no felonies.”

At What Point Can an Employer Inquire About Criminal Records?

After an employer extends a conditional job offer to the applicant, the employer can do or have a background check done. The check includes finding out about any criminal record the applicant has.

What Are Employers’ Guidelines If a Criminal Background Exists?

The employer has the right to ask about:

  • The arrest that occurred
  • What the original charges were
  • What circumstances led to conviction

Questions that an employer may not ask include questions about arrests that did not lead to convictions. They also may not ask about convictions that were:

  • Sealed or expunged
  • Reversed on appeal
  • For violations, infractions or petty offenses
  • For a youthful offender or juvenile delinquency finding
  • Withdrawn upon completing a court program

What an Employer Must Do When Revoking a Job Offer

Employers must explain why the job offer was revoked. The NYC Commission on Human Rights provides a Fair Chance Act Notice that provides guidelines for employers.

Employers must also give a copy of the criminal record information they obtained, whether the record was from an agency or from an Internet search.

Our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates have decades of experience representing employers in work-related issues. We can assist you with questions about employment laws.

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