New York City Mayor Signs "Ban the Box" Legislation in the Law

By Michael Klazema on 7/7/2015
It's official: New York City has banned the box for private employers, becoming the biggest city yet to take that step in the United States.

On Monday, June 28th, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio presided over a bill-signing ceremony for the legislation at City Hall. He was joined by Jumaane Williams, the city councilman who sponsored the bill. The new legislation, dubbed the "Fair Chance Act," is designed to curb employment discrimination in NYC by giving those with a criminal history a better chance at competing for jobs. Private employers throughout the city will be required to remove questions about criminal history from their job applications and to delay criminal background checks until after a conditional job offer has been made.

For Mayor de Blasio, the bill really is about fairness. The politician noted that those with a criminal history are often turned down for jobs without thought or consideration. As a result, it's like ex-offenders are being punished all over again for past misdeeds, ”even when they've already long since served out any criminal sentences.

"This will open the door to jobs to New Yorkers who have paid their debt to society, rather than condemning them to constant economic struggle."

Councilman Williams echoed de Blasio's comments, calling the Fair Chance Act more than "just an employment bill," but also "a public safety bill" and a "criminal justice bill," "all wrapped into one." By giving ex-offenders a chance to find steady, gainful employment, the goal behind the new law is to reduce recidivism and prevent ongoing criminal activity.

For the most part, NYC's new "ban the box" legislation is similar to "ban the box" policies already on the books in other cities, counties, and states. Questions about criminal histories are off the table on applications, background checks are delayed until later in the interview process, and existing laws concerning criminal convictions and employment (such as the laws barring sex offenders from working in schools) preempt the rules laid forth by the "ban the box" law.

Still, Mayor de Blasio's signing of the Fair Chance Act is notable just for the fact that it is taking place in New York City. So far, of the top 30 most populous cities in the United States, only Chicago (number 3), Philadelphia (5), San Francisco (13), Seattle (20), Washington D.C. (22), and Baltimore (26) have banned the box for private employers. As the mostpopulous city in the United States, New York adds substantial heft to the "ban the box" and fair chance employment movements, and indicates an ever-growing belief that ex-offenders should have opportunities to rebuild their lives.


Tag Cloud
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • December 04 Chicago Public Schools has dismissed hundreds of employees, coaches, vendors, and volunteers based on background check findings. The district recently vowed to re-check the majority of its 68,000 employees after a Chicago Tribune investigation revealed holes in its background check policies.
  • November 29 Striving to create a safer environment more conducive to productive training and leadership development, the Army has recently moved to adopt a uniform policy of background checks for certain roles. 
  • November 27 California’s biggest public school district is waiving the cost of volunteer background checks. The move is meant to encourage more family - and community members to get involved with the school district.
  • November 22 Contractors play an important role in the workforce, delivering services to both individuals and organizations. Vetting contractors for suitability continues to be a challenge, as two recent articles prove.
  • November 21 When it comes to background and pre-employment checks, it can be instructive to look at the characteristics of the ten most massive U.S. employers.
  • November 20 The #MeToo movement is bringing about legislative changes employers need to know about. We review some of the laws recently passed in California.
  • November 19

    Will a criminal conviction show up on your background check forever? In most states, there is a year limit for how long background check companies can report older criminal information.

  • November 15

    Replacing an inconsistent array of procedures, Ontario's government has passed into law a reform act intended to clarify how police departments should handle requests for information to be used in background checks. 

  • November 14 The federal government has vowed to cut its backlog of security clearance background checks in half by spring. Currently, the backlog is approximately 600,000 names strong.
  • November 12 To ensure the best hires, DFWSPF has implemented a stringent employee screening process—one that includes background searches through