New York City Moves to Ban the Box for All Employers

By Michael Klazema on 6/17/2015

The Fair Chance hiring movement appears to have scored a real coup, as New York City moves ahead with a plan to "ban the box" for private employers. In early June, the New York City Council voted on the Fair Chance Act, a piece of legislation that would prevent private employers in the city from asking questions about applicants' criminal history. The proposal passed with a vote of 45-5.

New York City already has "ban the box" policies in place for public employees and contractors. All city offices have subsequently removed questions about criminal convictions from their job applications. However, up until now, private companies operating in the city have not been required to change their practices in similar fashion. In fact, the list of jurisdictions that ban the box for private employers is still a short one at this point in time. That list does include major cities like Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, and San Francisco, but "ban the box" policies still have a long way to go before they become universal.

Still, the movement of the New York City Council to pass the Fair Chance Act is a huge win for supporters of the "ban the box" movement. New York is the biggest city yet to ban the box for private employers, making it clear just how much steam the Fair Chance hiring movement has gathered in the past few years. Supporters of "ban the box" legislation argue that these policies help to curb discrimination in the employment process by delaying the discovery of criminal history until after the initial interview (and often, until after a conditional offer of employment has been extended). In turn, supporters of "ban the box" policies say that the legislation can make it easier for ex-offenders to re-insert themselves back into society, thereby curbing recidivism.

New York City's new "ban the box" policies will apply to all NYC-based businesses that employ four or more people. It doesn't matter if the employees work remotely outside of the city, nor does it matter if they are considered contractors instead of full-time employees. In essence, any company that pays more than three people for their work will have to abide by New York City's new "ban the box" rules.

The Fair Chance Act is unlikely to see much protest from here on out. Mayor Bill de Blasio has publicly pledged to sign the legislation without delay. Since the legislation will go into effect 120 days after de Blasio endorses it with his signature, New York City could be completely free of criminal-related job application questions by the end of the year.


Tag Cloud
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • June 20 Repeat background checks are becoming more common, with companies in India leading the charge. What does this trend look like, and how can employers embrace it now to stay ahead of the curve?
  • June 19

    Every federal job involves a background check of some kind. These background checks and how they are evaluated vary based on job, department, and security clearance level.

  • June 18

  • June 14 Ban the box laws aim to improve opportunities for employment. Could they have the opposite effect instead?
  • June 13 Jacobs Petroleum Products is a regional petroleum company that operates throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland. Apart from their employees carrying much responsibility and have frequent contact with customers, the company’s hiring also tends to be segmented since individual store managers are responsible for hiring talent for their own stores. In this employment landscape, Jacobs Petroleum Products needed a reliable and effective way to screen its new hires for criminal infractions and other red flags.
  • June 12

    The University of Wisconsin System may tweak its hiring and reference check processes. The potential changes come after one of UW’s assistant deans was accused of sexual harassment.

  • June 07 Stories of abuse by coaches in youth sports leagues continue to crop up around the country, but rules and guidelines remain patchy and enforcement is often lacking. The struggle to implement an effective system continues nationwide.
  • June 07 Financial background checks, usually referred to as credit history checks, can be an effective way to find out if a candidate is fit to handle accounts, financial data, and other assets at your business.
  • June 06 The Society for Human Resource Management and the Charles Koch Institute recently commissioned a survey to find out how willing employers were to hire people with criminal records. The study indicates that managers, HR professionals, and employees themselves are becoming more comfortable with the idea of hiring and working with ex-offenders.
  • June 04 Are fingerprint background checks the gold standard for employee screening, or are they overhyped? We look at some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding these checks.