Phillips & Associates

Criminal History Discrimination During the Interview Process

New York City Lawyers Fighting For a Fair Chance for Job Applicants

It can be extremely challenging for people with a criminal history to find a job. Even employers in industries in which there is little risk may not hire an applicant who has a criminal history. No federal laws explicitly prevent employers from asking questions about criminal history during the interview process. However, to varying degrees, both New York State law and New York City law provide special protections against criminal history discrimination during the interview process. In some cases, race discrimination is also implicated by criminal history discrimination during an interview. At Phillips & Associates, our New York City criminal history discrimination attorneys may be able to help you pursue a legal claim if you have been mistreated in this way.

Criminal History Discrimination During the Interview Process

Many job applicants are excluded from being hired solely because of their criminal record, without the employer making any effort to look into other aspects of their lives that would make them a good fit. Both city law and state law include some form of protection against criminal history discrimination during an interview, but New York City law provides the greater protection of the two.

City Law

New York enacted a ban-the-box law, the Fair Chance Act, which went into effect in 2015. It amended the New York City Human Rights Law. Under this law, all employers in the city that have at least four employees are prohibited from inquiring into a job applicant's criminal history until after making a conditional offer of employment.

In other words, employers cannot include a requirement that you check a box on your employment application if you have been convicted of a crime or have an arrest pending. During the interview process, a prospective employer cannot directly ask you about your criminal history, or even search public records to determine whether you have a criminal history. Employers are not allowed to include any statement in a job posting that a criminal conviction could affect your chance of employment, except when the law requires this.

Employers can only make inquiries about a criminal conviction after making a conditional offer of employment. If you were adversely affected because a prospective employer inquired about your criminal history during the interview process, you may have recourse to file a lawsuit or pursue administrative remedies with the assistance of an attorney.

State Law

New York state law also regulates employers' efforts to look into a job applicant's criminal history. The state law applies outside the city and complements the city law within the city. Under the state law, during an interview, employers are not allowed to ask you about arrests that never led to a conviction, specific sealed records, and juvenile adjudications. However, outside New York City, an employer can ask you about pending arrests and accusations. If you were recently arrested for shoplifting, an employer outside New York City may inquire about it. Within New York City, an employer cannot ask about it until after a conditional offer is made.

Under Article 23-A of the New York Correction Law, employers that make criminal history conviction inquiries are required to analyze the relationship between the criminal conviction and the job for which the applicant is applying before making an employment decision. Employers are not allowed to deny employment on the basis of a criminal conviction unless hiring you would present an unreasonable risk to property or safety or unless the conviction has a direct relationship to the work. There are eight factors that the prospective employer needs to take into account when conducting the analysis, such as the nature of the crime at issue, when it was committed, and your age at the time of committing it.

Retain a New York City Lawyer for Your Criminal History Discrimination Claim

Interviews can be a stressful process. People with a criminal record can have a difficult time even getting called for an interview, making it especially important to hold employers accountable for their discrimination. Our experienced New York City attorneys believe that people with criminal convictions should be considered on the merits of their application when applying for a job. We understand how to pursue damages after a job applicant faces criminal history discrimination during the interview process, and we may be able to help you. Call us at (212) 248-7431 or contact us via our online form. We fight criminal history discrimination in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, as well as in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties and in New Jersey.

PHILLIPS & ASSOCIATES
45 Broadway, #620,
New York NY, 10006
Tel: 646-362-6941
Fax: 212-901-2107
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