New York City Employers Openly Violating 'Fair Chance Act' By Discriminating Against Ex-Offenders

New York City Employers Openly Violating
The Fair Chance Act That Bars Asking About Criminal
History Before Being Granted An Interview
When Mayor de Blasio signed the Fair Chance Act this month, New York took a welcome step forward.

The new law prohibits employers from inquiring about a job applicant’s criminal history before they have made a conditional offer. It bans the box — “check here if you have been convicted of a crime” — that is a symbol of permanent unemployment for so many. It does not prohibit employers from taking that history into consideration. It does, however, make sure that every job seeker gets a fair shot first.

With this law, New York City is beginning to face its history of allowing employers to consign those with any criminal history in their past — especially low-income citizens and persons of color — to a lifetime of struggle to find employment. Even before the Fair Chance Act, employers were prohibited from banning all applicants with criminal histories and were required to consider a variety of factors and qualifications when using criminal history as a screen for jobs.

Despite these progressive policies, however, employers continued to discriminate with impunity — underscoring the need for serious enforcement efforts. A quick search on any of the major job-listing sites reveals dozens of companies whose listings outright ignore the law.

Illegal ex-offenders-need-not-apply bans litter the online job marketplace. Postings from everyone from global tech companies to local exterminators list “no felonies” or even “no arrests” as job requirements. These statements flaunt the law and force individuals with criminal histories trying to rebuild their lives to remain on society’s fringes.....

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