Employers Beware: New “Ban the Box” Legislation Passes New York City Council

On June 11th, the New York City Council passed legislation prohibiting, among other things, criminal background checks prior to making an offer to prospective employees.  The Mayor is expected to sign the legislation in the coming days and the legislation then takes effect 120 days after he signs the bill.  

In a nutshell, the law prohibits criminal background checks before an offer of employment.  That includes any advertising that discourages or denies any person with a criminal record the right to apply for the job.  It also applies to any application a prospective employee must fill out as well as the interview or other pre-offer meetings or documents required for submission by the applicant.  

After a conditional offer of employment is made a criminal background check can be conducted upon notice to the applicant.  After the results of that criminal background check are received, several statutory factors codified under Section 23-a of the New York State Correction Law must be taken into account when determining the impact of any criminal history the offeree may have on his or her impending employment.  

You should note that any criminal background check required by federal, state of local law or by any “self-regulatory organization” (i.e., FINRA) is exempt from this law.

This is a basic summary of the key components of the law for informational purposes only and should not be considered a comprehensive review of its component parts or any potential obligations you or your company may have under the new law.  Please feel free to contact  if you require a more comprehensive analysis of this new law or if you have any questions or comments.