Suffolk County NY Files Ban the Box Law for Applicants with Criminal Records

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On April 27, 2020, Suffolk County in New York filed a “Ban the Box” law that will prohibit employers in the county with 15 or more employees from asking questions regarding or pertaining to the criminal convictions of job candidates during the application process. The Ban the Box law will take effect on August 25, 2020.

The Suffolk County Legislature found that removing the conviction history “check box” from applications increases employment opportunities for individuals with criminal convictions, reduces the stigma and bias associated with individuals with a criminal background, and works towards ending structural discrimination.

Under Suffolk County Local Law No. 14 of 2020 filed with the New York Secretary of State, employers would be able to consider a job candidate’s prior criminal convictions only after an application is submitted, after an initial interview, or thereafter. The Ban the Box law will make it an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer to:

  • Make any inquiry regarding or to require any person to disclose or reveal any criminal conviction during the application process. The application process shall begin when the applicant inquires about the employment sought and shall ends when an employer has accepted an employment application.
  • Make any inquiry regarding or to require any person to disclose or reveal a criminal conviction against such person before a first interview.  If an employer does not conduct an interview, that employer must inform the applicant whether a criminal background check will be conducted before employment is to begin.

The law allows employers hiring for licensed trades or professions to ask applicants questions asked by the licensing body in accordance with New York State law, and employers hiring for positions where convictions are a bar to employment under New York State or Federal law to ask questions about those convictions.

The prohibitions of this law shall not apply to the Suffolk County Police Department or the Suffolk County Department of Fire. Rescue, and Emergency Services, or to any other employer hiring for “police officer” and “peace officer” positions, as defined by Criminal Procedure Law 51.20 and 52.10.

The prohibitions of the Ban the Box law – which was passed on March 17, 2020 – will not apply to any public or private school, nor to any public or private service provider of direct services specific to the care or supervision of children, young adults, senior citizens, or the physically or mentally disabled. The full text is here.

The Ban the Box movement advances employment opportunities for people with prior criminal records by eliminating the criminal history question on job applications. As of May 2020, 35 U.S. states and more than 150 cities and counties have passed Ban the Box laws, according to the National Employment Law Project (NELP).

Ban the Box laws and second chance programs that help give ex-offenders in the United States with a prior criminal record a chance to find work after leaving prison are spreading in 2020, according to the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” for 2020 compiled by Employment Screening Resources® (ESR).

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) offers a complimentary white paper titled “Ten Critical Steps for Ex-Offenders to Get Back into the Workforce” and also a Ban the Box Resource Page that contains an interactive map updated with the latest Ban the Box laws. To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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