New York City Council Passes Ban the Box Bill for Private Sector

 BanTheBox

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

The New York City Council has passed a “Ban the Box” bill – Introduction 318-A – Fair Chance Act – that will prevent many private sector employers in the city from asking job applicants if they have a criminal record until after a conditional job offer is made, according to an Associated Press (AP) report on myfoxny.com. AP also reports New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has signaled support and is expected to sign the Ban the Box bill into law (Update: Mayor de Blasio Signs “Fair Chance Act”).

According to a press release on the New York City Council website, the Fair Chance Act will “address employment discrimination faced by individuals formerly incarcerated and increase gainful employment opportunities for those with arrest records or criminal histories. Sponsored by Council Member Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn), the Ban the Box bill would make it a violation of the City’s Human Rights Law for any employer to ask about a job applicant’s criminal past before the applicant receives a conditional offer of employment.

Only after a conditional job offer is made would an employer would be allowed to make inquiries related to criminal history and perform criminal background check. If the employer decides to take adverse or negative action against an applicant based on a criminal record, the bill would require the employer to:

  • (i) Provide the applicant with a written explanation of the decision not to hire the applicant; and
  • (ii) Hold the position open for three days, giving the applicant a chance to respond. During this three-day period, the applicant could address any incorrect or negative reporting, or provide the employer with proof of rehabilitation.

Nothing in the Ban the Box bill would require an employer to hire anyone despite criminal history. The Ban the Box bill does not apply to employers hiring for positions where any federal, State, or local law requires criminal background checks or where criminal backgrounds serve as a bar to employment. The Ban the Box bill also exempts law enforcement positions, members of the Police Department and Department of Investigation, and some positions of public trust affected by the State’s Civil Service Law.

The fast growing “Ban the Box” movement is named after the box on job applications that applicants are asked to check if they have a criminal history. According to a Ban the Box State and Local Guide from the National Employment Law Project (NELP), more than 100 cities and counties have taken steps to remove barriers to employment for qualified workers with criminal records. In addition, 17 states – California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia – have passed some form of Ban the Box legislation.

More Ban the Box Information from ESR

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority®’ – offers a Ban the Box Information Page with links to the latest news and resources about the Ban the Box movement. The Ban the Box page is at http://www.esrcheck.com/Ban-the-Box/. For more information about ESR, call toll free 888.999.4474 or visit http://www.esrcheck.com.

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