One in three adults in our country has a criminal record and 2.3 million people are in prison in the country, a 500% increase over the last four years. Unfortunately, because many employers are biased against those who have criminal convictions on their records, that leaves a lot of people facing an uphill battle when searching for a job. You may wonder whether you have any protections under the law and whether there is any way to put your convictions behind you as you try to rebuild your life. Recently, Marjorie Mesidor and Darnisha Lewis-Bonilla, tenacious New York City criminal conviction discrimination attorneys with Phillips & Associates, wrote a piece for Lawyer Monthly to answer the questions many people with criminal conviction records have.
Criminal Conviction Discrimination
Ms. Mesidor and Ms. Lewis-Bonilla provided readers with context for the laws related to criminal conviction discrimination. They explained that in the United States, 27% of people who have experienced criminal convictions remain unemployed after serving their time. The criminal justice system has a disproportionate impact on people of color. Nearly ½ of Black males have been arrested at least once before turning twenty-three according to a University of South Carolina study with data from a 16-year United States Bureau of Labor Statistics survey.
Searching for a new job can be a frustrating process. As a job applicant, you might not understand what information your employer is trying to get when asked certain questions. You may feel nervous about answering questions about your criminal record honestly because you fear it will result in denial of a a job opportunity. When you don’t accurately report your criminal history, however, you can harm your chances in any future legal claims.
Many New Yorkers do not realize that there are resources they can access to mitigate the impact of their criminal convictions. Depending on the crime for which you were convicted, you may be able to petition for a Certificate of Relief from Civil Disabilities or an Application to Seal Criminal Conviction, either of which, if granted could help you get past a criminal conviction when searching for a job.
Fair Chance Act
Under the Fair Chance Act, it is illegal for a prospective New York City employer to ask you about your criminal record prior to extending you a job offer. You should not be asked to authorize a criminal background check. Rather, your employer must make a conditional offer before inquiring into your criminal history.
Likewise, your existing employer should never ask you about non-convictions such as arrests that weren’t prosecuted or acquittals, youthful offender cases, violations, and sealed cases. However, your employer is allowed to consider an open or pending case, a driving infraction, a felony conviction, or a misdemeanor conviction.
If a prospective employer does have concerns after extending a job offer and getting background check results, it should ask you for evidence of your rehabilitation or good conduct since the conviction. It needs to do a Fair Chance Analysis of your record. The job offer can be rescinded if there is a direct connection between the conduct and the job or when hiring you would involve an unreasonable risk to people or property. Fair Chance factors your employer should consider when deciding whether your past conduct bears on the job or presents an unreasonable risk include:
- Evidence of your accomplishments.
- The employer’s interest in protecting people and property.
- The policy of encouraging employment for those with criminal records.
- Particular job duties and responsibilities.
- The record’s impact on your ability to perform one or more job duties.
- The seriousness of the conduct in question.
- How much time has passed since the alleged or convicted crime and your age at the time.
If you have a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities or a Certificate of Good Conduct, an employer should presume you are rehabilitated. Before rescinding the job offer, the prospective employer must give you the written analysis and a copy of your criminal background check so you can respond; you have 5 business days to respond.
Consult a Seasoned Criminal Conviction Discrimination Attorney
If you think you’ve been subjected to discrimination based on a criminal conviction, you should call a lawyer that has experience in prosecuting criminal conviction discrimination cases. The seasoned New York City employment discrimination attorneys of Phillips & Associates may be able to represent you. We represent workers in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, Nassau County or Suffolk County. Call us at (866) 530-4330 or complete our online form.
Read the full article here.