New York Criminal Conviction Discrimination Lawyers

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Criminal conviction discrimination in employment is a two-fold discrimination practice. The first is for a mistake an applicant made in the past; the second is the unconscious bias employers follow as a result of preconceived notions.

But what can you do to combat these practices? What rights do you have as an employee if you are a victim of criminal conviction discrimination? Our discrimination lawyers can tell you.

How Can Criminal Conviction Discrimination Affect You?

When you have a criminal conviction on your record, you likely fear that it will impact your employment opportunities. A field experiment conducted by Yale students, reviewed “Ban-the-Box” (BTB) policies that limit an employer’s ability to ask applicants about criminal history. The goal is to limit disproportionate race discrimination against young African American applicants. 

In the study, employers were presented with applications of a variety of criminal and noncriminal backgrounds. There was a race gap for callbacks from companies that had enacted these BTB policies. Why? Because employers who did not have the information in front of them hired more white employees than people of color–a gap that grew from 7% to 45%.

New York Regulations on Criminal Conviction Discrimination: Correction Law

Under the New York State Correction Law, it is unlawful for an employer to “deny any license or employment, to refuse to hire, or terminate, or take an adverse employment action against an applicant or employee, by reason of his or her having been convicted of one or more criminal offenses.”

In addition, an employer may not discriminate against a current or potential employee because a previous conviction supposedly indicates a lack of “good moral character.” There has to be a direct relationship between the crime committed and the position sought.

To determine if there is a direct relationship or unreasonable risk to the past record, the employer must consider the following factors:

  • The specific duties and responsibilities related to the license or employment
  • The bearing the criminal offense will have on his ability to perform one or more duties or responsibilities
  • The time which has elapsed since the criminal offense(s)
  • The age of the person at the time of the criminal offense(s)
  • The seriousness of the offense(s)
  • Information produced by the person, or produced on his behalf, in regard to his rehabilitation and good conduct
  • The legitimate interest of the public agency/private employer in protecting property 
  • The safety and welfare of specific individuals/the general public

These considerations are on a case-by-case basis. Because of this, it is important for potential employees to know that the employer does have a right to discriminate against the person’s employment under a few certain conditions. A previous criminal conviction can only affect an employer’s hiring decision if it: 

  • Bears a direct relationship to the job duties. 
  • If the employment of the individual would involve an unreasonable risk to the safety or welfare of the company and those employed by it.

Conviction Distinctions

Previous criminal convictions that have no influence on the position you seek should not hold you back. But, if you receive a criminal conviction while on the job, your employer can take action against you.

In addition, unlike other employment issues that the New York Human Rights Law covers, an employer can ask an individual to disclose prior convictions. They can ask for this information at any time during employment. Failure to disclose the truth can result in termination or denial of employment. However, if your record has been sealed, you do not have to say you have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor.

If you are undergoing a criminal background check for employment or you worry your past record will inhibit your ability to find a better job, you need legal help.

Criminal Conviction Discrimination in New York Employment

Your past should stay in the past. But when a previous criminal conviction stops you from seeking employment or causes you to be the victim of criminal conviction discrimination, know that you have options.

These discriminatory behaviors can also be racially motivated, making them even more complicated. So don’t handle it alone. Contact the criminal conviction discrimination lawyers of Brown Kwon & Lam now.

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