New York Laws Imposing Employment-Related Consequences for Criminal Convictions

Discrimination in hiring on the basis of a criminal record, including not only convictions but also arrests and charges, is a serious problem for millions of people in this country. Many cities and states have enacted laws protecting workers with criminal convictions from many forms of discrimination. Recent amendments to the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) offer some of the strongest protections in the country. The law includes an exception, however, for situations when other local, state, or federal laws specifically disqualify people with criminal records from certain types of employment. New York State has more than 1,000 such laws.

The NYCHRL generally prohibits employment discrimination based on criminal conviction history, using procedures established by state law. N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107(10), N.Y. Corr. L. § 750 et seq. Under the New York State Corrections Law, an employer cannot refuse to hire someone or take other adverse employment actions against them based solely on criminal history, except in two situations:  if a “direct connection” exists between the criminal history and the specific job in question, or if the employer reasonably believes that employing the person would pose an “an unreasonable risk” to certain people, the general public, or private property. N.Y. Corr. L. § 752.

An employer that denies someone a job on one or more of the grounds stated in the Corrections Law must provide written notice to that person. The NYCHRL also prohibits employers from advertising job openings as only being open to people without criminal records. N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107(11-a).

Under both city and state laws, employers cannot discriminate against an employee or job applicant because of an arrest record when the person has no charges pending against them, and any charges resulting from the arrest have been dismissed. N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107(11). The NYCHRL bases its provisions in this area on those of the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), which addresses multiple types of criminal history that are essentially off-limits to employers. N.Y. Exec. L. § 296(16).

The NYCHRL’s prohibitions on criminal history discrimination do not apply when local, state, or federal laws require it. N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107(11-a)(e). The National Inventory of Collateral Consequences of Conviction (NICCC), a project of the American Bar Association, catalogues federal, state, and local laws that impose non-punitive consequences on people with criminal convictions. For the State of New York, the NICCC identifies 1,298 laws. The first page of search results includes the following:

– A person is ineligible to serve as an officer of a company engaged in public works contracting if they have been convicted of an offense involving “moral turpitude,” violence, or public corruption, N.Y. Lab. L. § 220-b;
– A person cannot obtain or renew a certification as a security guard instructor if they have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor involving conduct “performed in the name of or in behalf of an approved security guard training school,” 9 N.Y.C.R.R. § 6029.6(e); and
– A family day care home has discretion to refuse to hire an applicant, or to allow someone to volunteer, if a mandatory background indicates felony or misdemeanor convictions. 18 N.Y.C.R.R. § 417.13(b).

Phillips & Associates’ criminal conviction discrimination attorneys fight for the rights of employees and job seekers in New York City who have experienced unlawful employment practices under city, state, and federal laws. Contact us online or at (212) 248-7431 to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a member of our team.

More Blog Posts:

Research Suggests that Criminal History Discrimination Causes Employers to Miss Out on Good Employees, New York Employment Attorney Blog, June 29, 2016

Federal Agency Expands Protections Against Criminal History Discrimination, New York Employment Attorney Blog, May 6, 2016

State Supreme Court Strikes Down Law that Categorically Bans People with Criminal Convictions from Employment, New York Employment Attorney Blog, April 20, 2016

Contact Information