Westchester County Criminal Conviction Discrimination

Employment Attorneys Representing Residents of Westchester County

On a scale from 1-100, Westchester County's violent crime rate is relatively low at 34, which is lower than the U.S. average. Under the New York State Human Rights Law, people with prior arrest records or convictions are protected against discrimination. Your employer or prospective employer has certain obligations with regard to the protections provided under state law. If you are concerned about mistreatment in the workplace, you should consult a Westchester County criminal conviction discrimination lawyer. At Phillips & Associates, we can provide knowledgeable legal counsel and tough representation against companies that violate employee rights.

Protections Against Criminal Conviction Discrimination

The New York State Human Rights Law prohibits employers or prospective employers from inquiring about a criminal accusation or arrest that is not currently pending against you. It is also illegal under the state law to ask about a criminal accusation that has been concluded in your favor, been concluded by youthful offender adjudication, or been concluded with a sealed conviction. It is illegal for your boss to require you to reveal information about arrests or criminal accusations in those categories or take an adverse employment action due to those arrests or criminal accusations.

For example, it would be illegal for a prospective employer to ask you whether you have ever been arrested. However, it is not illegal to ask if you have currently pending arrests or accusations. For another example, it would be illegal for a prospective employer to conduct a background check on you as a job applicant and then ask you questions about an arrest that did not result in prosecution and is not pending. A prospective employer is not allowed to ask you about the circumstances in order to look into whether you would be a good employee. Our criminal conviction discrimination attorneys can help Westchester County residents hold businesses accountable for these actions.

As long as your arrest or a criminal accusation is pending, however, the New York State Human Rights Law will not shield you. Your employer or your prospective employer can choose not to hire you or can discipline or fire you as long as it follows any other laws that are applicable and any provisions of an applicable collective bargaining agreement.

You are not protected for the period of time that an arrest or accusation is pending, which is an important concern. If you divulge the arrest, or your employer does a random background check and finds out about the arrest, it is allowed to question you about what led to the arrest as well as how the matter progresses through the courts, and how the proceeding turned out. If you are convicted, it can terminate you. For example, if you were arrested for sexual assault, and your employer finds out, it can ask you questions about what happened, and it can choose to terminate you as a result of the arrest. However, if you were once arrested for battery and got an acquittal, and your subsequent employer finds out and decides to demote you, this is illegal. A Westchester County criminal conviction discrimination attorney can help you take legal action.

Moreover, if you were accused of stealing from the corner store while you were a kid, and it resulted in youthful offender adjudication or a sealed conviction, you are also protected. Your employer is not allowed to start an inquiry into this conviction. However, whether or not a record is actually sealed can be a factual issue. Before November 1, 1991, judges needed to specifically order the sealing of a record. Since then, when a court indicates the sealing in the disposition reporting system, it is automatically sealed.

There are exceptions to the New York State Human Rights Law for situations in which the employer's actions are required or allowed by law. For example, police or peace officer employment is handled differently.

Article 23-A identifies two categories of situations in which employers can deny a job applicant a job based on a prior conviction. A denial may be legitimate if there is a direct relationship between the prior offense and the type of employment being requested. Similarly, if the job involves an unreasonable risk of harm to property, safety, or welfare, a denial may be legal. An employer that is considering a denial for either of these reasons must use an eight-factor analysis to make a decision.

Consult a Criminal Conviction Discrimination Lawyer in Westchester County

At Phillips & Associates, our experienced attorneys help clients who have faced criminal conviction discrimination and other forms of discrimination, such as disability discrimination and gender discrimination, in Westchester County. If you believe that you have been a victim of criminal conviction discrimination, contact us at (646) 941-7609 or through our online form for a free case evaluation. We represent clients in Yonkers, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, and White Plains.

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