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NYC Issues Proposed Rules for Fair Chance Act

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(Press Release)

NEW YORK, NY – The New York City Commission on Human Rights issued proposed rules for the Fair Chance Act to clarify its implementation.

The Fair Chance Act, in effect since October of 2015, prohibits New York City employers from asking questions pertaining to an applicant’s criminal background until a conditional offer of employment has been made. The proposed rules are open for comment until March 21, 2016.

The Commission’s notice regarding the proposed rule can be found here: Notice Fair Chance Act. Its statement of “Basis and Purpose” is available here.

Anyone can comment on the proposed rules via the following methods:

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  1. Submit comments to the Commission through the NYC rules website here.
  2. Email comments to [email protected]
  3. Mail comments to: Dana Sussman, Special Counsel to the Office of the Chairperson, New York City Commission of Human Rights, P.O. Box 2023, New York, NY 10272.
  4. Fax comments to Dana Sussman at (646)-500-6734.
  5. Comment in person at the public hearing taking place at 1:00 p.m. on March 21, 2016 at 125 Worth St., 2nd Floor Auditorium. Anyone who wishes to comment at the hearing must sign up in advance by emailing [email protected]

New York City’s Fair Chance Act provides that after a conditional offer of employment has been made, an employer may ask an applicant about his or her criminal history, or may perform a background check, as long as notice requirements are met. There are some exceptions; for example, there is an exemption for positions where criminal background checks are required by law.

Nationwide, states and cities are increasingly enacting “ban the box” laws to ensure that job applicants will be considered on their skills and experience before having to reveal a criminal history. At the federal level, in 2012 the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) advised employers to remove conviction questions from job applications.

Given these new laws, employers should certainly review their employee screening procedures to make sure they are in compliance. They should also continue to make use of available screening tools that are legal, such as close reviews of resumes and references, and online searches.

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