Starting today, March 4, 2019, employers in Westchester County, New York are prohibited from requesting job applicants to disclose criminal history in employment applications. The County Board of the County of Westchester passed the Fair Chance to Work Act to provide individuals with a criminal record a fair chance to apply to job positions.
The new ban the box law covers employers with four or more employees. Under the law, employers cannot:
- make oral or written inquiries or statements related to criminal convictions or arrest records in an employment application;
- disqualify an applicant from employment for refusing to answer an unlawful inquiry or statement related to his or her criminal history; or
- specify qualification criteria based on criminal history in a job advertisement.
Before making a hiring decision based on criminal history, employers must conduct a job-relatedness analysis as required under Article 23-A of the New York Correction Law. An employer must consider, for example, whether the criminal offense(s) for which the person was previously convicted will have on his or her ability to perform one or more such duties; the time which has elapsed since the occurrence of the criminal offense(s); and the seriousness of the offense(s). If an employer makes an adverse employment decision based on criminal history, applicants can request a written statement about the reasons for the denial of employment.
The law does not cover employers subject to any state, federal or County law that requires criminal background checks for employment purposes or bars employment based on criminal history. The law also does not cover applicants applying for a position at a law enforcement agency, or as a police officer or peace officer.
To stay compliant, covered employers need to review and revised their employment applications and any job advertisements that requests criminal history information.