The County of Suffolk, New York Passes "Ban the Box" Legislation

May 8, 2020 Accurate Background

Suffolk County, New York joins the growing number of governments that prohibit employers from requesting conviction history checkboxes on employment applications as a proven method of increasing employment opportunities for individuals with criminal convictions.  The intent of this legislation is to increase employment opportunities for individuals with criminal convictions and to work towards ending structural discrimination.

 

The Basics

Location: Suffolk, New York

Legislation: Statute 528-7-Unlawful employment practices 

Type: Ban the Box

Effective: August 25, 2020

 

Key Takeaways

  • Applies to employers in the county with 15 or more employees  
  • Prohibits inquiry into criminal arrests (already prohibited) or convictions on employment applications
  • May not inquire on criminal history before the first interview
  • May ask about criminal history only after application is submitted and first interview

 

Which employers are affected?

The law applies to the County of Suffolk, its departments, administrative units and related agencies (“County”) as well as any employer, partnership, corporation, labor organization, not-for-profit, or association located within the County having fifteen or more employees.

What is prohibited?

It shall be unlawful for an employer to make any inquiry regarding or to require any person to disclose or reveal any criminal conviction during the application process, which begins when the applicant inquiries about employment and ends when an employer has accepted the employment application. Also prohibited is making an inquiry regarding or to require any person to disclose or reveal any criminal conviction against such person before a first interview, which is defined as any direct contact by the employer with the applicant, where in person or by telephone, to discuss the employment being sought or the applicants qualifications. If an employer does not conduct an interview, that employer must inform the applicant whether a criminal background check will be conducted before employment begins.

Do I still need to comply with Article 23-A of the New York State Corrections Law?

Yes.  An employer shall comply with Article 23-A of the New York State Corrections Law when considering an applicant’s prior criminal convictions in determining suitability for employment.

Are there any exceptions?

The law does not apply to the following:

  • if the inquiries or adverse action prohibited herein are specifically authorized by any other applicable state or federal law
  • to the Suffolk County Police Department or the Suffolk County Department of Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Services, or to any other employer hiring for “police officer” and “peace officer” positions, as defined by Criminal Procedure Law §1.20 and §2.10
  • to any public or private school, nor to any public or private service provider of direct services specific to the care or supervision of children, young adults, senior citizens, or the physically or mentally disabled

Please review and discuss with your legal counsel to determine if you meet one of the exceptions provided in the Ordinance.

Recommendations

We recommend you review and discuss with your legal counsel your organization’s policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the changing laws and regulations. 

 

Please note:  The information provided above is strictly for educational purposes.  It is not intended to be legal advice, either expressed or implied.  Accurate Background recommends that you consult with your legal counsel regarding all employment regulations.

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