New York City Council Passes “Ban the Box” Law


On June 9, 2015, the New York City Council passed the Fair Chance Act, which prohibits employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal record during the employment application process.  This legislation is known as a “ban the box” law, because it prohibits employers from including a check box on an application inquiring about the applicant’s criminal background.

The legislation applies to public and private employers, employment agencies and agents, and prohibits them from denying employment or taking adverse action against an employee because the applicant or employee has been convicted of a criminal offense.  The law also bans employers from inquiring about (in writing or orally) or searching for an applicant’s arrest or conviction record until the employer has extended a conditional offer of employment to the applicant.  Employers also cannot state in job advertisements that a person’s criminal background would be a limitation in employment.

There are a few exceptions to the law.  The Fair Chance Act does not apply to law enforcement agencies, including police departments, fire departments, the Department of Correction, the Department of Investigation, the Department of Probation, the Division of Youth and Family Services, the Business Integrity Commission, and the district attorneys’ offices.  It also does not apply to an employer that is required to conduct criminal background checks by law or that is required to bar employment based on criminal history.

If the Fair Chance Act is approved by the mayor, it will go into effect 120 days after its enactment.  For assistance with conducting background checks of applicants or employees in New York City, please contact Connell Foley’s labor and employment law attorneys.