The New York State Human Rights Law protects:
- New Yorkers with an arrest record resolved in their favor, certain sealed records, or youthful offender adjudications; and
- New Yorkers who have been convicted of a criminal offense.
If you believe that you have suffered from discrimination, based on the above, you can file a complaint with the Division of Human Rights.
The Division only accepts complaints of conviction record discrimination with regard to private employers. Those claiming discrimination by public agencies must bring an action in state court.
The Law For Those With an Arrest Record Resolved In Their Favor, Sealed Records, or a Youthful Offender Adjudication
If you have an arrest that was resolved in your favor, a sealed record, or a youthful offender adjudication, you cannot be asked about it in any form application or otherwise, or discriminated against on, those grounds in connection with employment, licensing, or the provision of credit or insurance.
The protections described above do not apply to governmental agencies involved in the licensing of guns, firearms, and other deadly weapons, or in the employment of police officers or peace officers. There, the agency may ask about and consider an arrest resolved in your favor, a sealed record, or a youthful offender adjudication.
The Law For Those With a Conviction Record
Under the Human Rights Law you must disclose any prior convictions to your potential employer or current employer if you are asked to do so.
An employer or licensing agency is permitted to inquire about convictions for criminal offenses and can deny employment if:
- There is a direct relationship between the conviction and the license or employment sought, or
- Issuing the license or granting the employment would involve an unreasonable risk to property or the safety and welfare of others.
In making the decision, the employer should consider the following factors:
- New York’s public policy to encourage licensure and employment of those with previous convictions.
- The duties and responsibilities related to the license or employment sought.
- Whether the underlying criminal offense of the prior conviction affects his/her fitness or ability to perform these duties and responsibilities.
- The length of time since the criminal offense.
- The age of the person at the time of the criminal offense.
- The seriousness of the criminal offense.
- Any evidence of rehabilitation and good conduct since the criminal offense.
You applied for a job and the application inquires if you’ve ever been convicted of a criminal offense. You don’t feel comfortable disclosing your felony conviction. Do you have to answer honestly?
Yes. Under the Human Rights Law, you must answer the question honestly. Should the employer determine at a later time that you made an intentional misrepresentation on your application, the employer may refuse to hire you or terminate your employment.
You were arrested for a criminal offense but no charges were ever filed. Can an employer inquire about this arrest?
No. It would be unlawful to inquire about this arrest in any manner.
You apply for a job as a cable television installation specialist. The job requires you to install cable service in customers’ homes. During the interview process, your recent conviction for aggravated assault is disclosed. You do not get the job and believe the reason is your conviction record. Is this legal?
If the employer weighed the factors described above and concluded that the conviction impacted your fitness and ability to perform the job duties, the decision would likely be in compliance with the law.