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NYC employment legal update on criminal background checks and credit checks

As an update on recent legal developments, New York City has imposed new requirements on employers related to credit checks and criminal background checks. The first is a ban on credit checks of most job applicants.  The second is “ban the box” legislation that restricts an employer’s ability to inquire into an applicant’s criminal history until after a conditional offer of employment is made unless otherwise required by law. Both laws are amendments to the New York City Human Rights Law which applies to both public and private employers in New York City with four or more employees. These changes go into effect on September 3 for the credit history and on October 27 for criminal background checks. Please read the details below and if you are an employer, you should consult with your legal teams if you have any questions on the changes.

Credit History Checks (amendments to NYC Administrative Code – effective September 3, 2015)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law an amendment to the New York City Human Rights Law on May 6, prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of “consumer credit history.”  The amendment makes it an “unlawful discriminatory practice” for an employer to use an applicant’s or employee’s consumer credit history when making hiring and other employment decisions, and to otherwise discriminate against an applicant or employee on the basis of his or her consumer credit history. However, employers are permitted to request and use consumer credit history in certain situations (examples are: police officers, persons needing security clearance, people working in the finance sector that might deal with “trade secrets”).The law goes into effect on September 3, 2015, and applies to most private sector employers in New York City. Click here to read the full text of the law.

Criminal Background Check Update (amendments to NYC Administrative Code – effective October 27, 2015)

Mayor de Blasio signed the amendment that restricts employers from inquiring into or considering an applicant’s or employee’s criminal history in employment decisions. Specifically, the NYC Fair Chance Act amends the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) , to prohibit employers from asking applicants about criminal history at any time prior to extending a conditional offer of employment, including on an initial employment application (i.e., “banning the box”), unless otherwise required by law. The NYC Fair Chance Act expands existing legislation which previously applied only to city agencies and human services contractors. The new NYC law also forbids employers from stating on any job advertisement or other solicitation or publication that employment is conditioned or limited based on an applicant’s arrest or conviction history. Click here to read the full text of the law

You can read more information about New York Labor Laws here.

A special thank you to our friends at  Davis & Gilbert LLP for outlining the changes!

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