Law Blog

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What is New York’s Fair Chance Act?

What is New York’s Fair Chance Act?New York workers are entitled to a number of benefits under various federal, state, and city laws. The Fair Chance Act is an example of this.

What does the Fair Chance Act Do?

The Fair Chance Act ensures that New York residents all have a fair chance at a job, even if they have had trouble with the law.

The city already protects job applicants from answering questions about their criminal record during the early interviewing process for a job in the public sector. Certain employers are also prohibited from running a background check on applicants until the first interview.

The Fair Chance Act takes these protections further and ensures that all employers, whether they are a public or private entity, must wait until they have extended an offer to an applicant before they can inquire about his or her criminal history.

The goal is to ensure that applicants are evaluated based on their merit and not denied employment purely because of any prior run-ins with the law.

What Might an Applicant Face If Given a Job Offer?

If you have a criminal history and you’re applying for a job, it’s understandable why you might be concerned. The Fair Chance Act offers protection, but eventually, your potential employer is likely to learn of your criminal history.

What can you expect if you are offered a job?

You might be asked about your criminal history in a face-to-face or phone/computer interview. In conjunction with questions or as an alternative to asking outright, your potential employer might also run a criminal background check on you. However, before doing so, they must first ask permission.

It’s still possible for the job offer to be rescinded after the investigation into your criminal history if the employer determines that your crime is directly related to the job or that hiring you would pose a risk to people or property.

If this occurs, the potential employer must give you a copy of the information they reviewed and explain its decision, proving they were within their legal rights to deny you employment.

Employers can base their decision on:

  • An applicant’s criminal history has a bearing on his or her fitness or ability to perform the duties and responsibilities of the job
  • How much time has passed since the crime(s)
  • Severity of the conviction
  • Age at the time of the crime
  • If the applicant has otherwise made positive life changes and had achievements since the crime
  • Employer’s legitimate interest in protecting the general public, specific people, or property

Once notification of denial has been given to the applicant, there is a three day waiting period that allows both the potential employer and applicant the opportunity to discuss the decision. This also provides an applicant an opportunity to contest anything that was wrong with the information used by the employer for the evaluation.

Keep in mind, law enforcement agencies are exempt from the Fair Chance Act, so if you’re concerned about your criminal history you need to carefully consider whether it’s worth applying for a position in law enforcement.

There are also laws in place preventing certain types of employers from hiring anyone with certain criminal convictions. For instance, a child or daycare center would be legally prevented from hiring someone convicted of sexually abusing a child.

If you’d like to read more about New York’s Fair Chance Act, check out this information provided by the City of New York.

If you have questions or concerns about New York’s Fair Chance Act or you believe you were treated unfairly because of your criminal history, we can help. To learn more, contact Borrelli & Associates, P.L.L.C.

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