New York City Council Passes Bill Prohibiting Certain Criminal Background Inquiries in Hiring Decisions: Amendment to New York City Human Rights Law Prohibits Employers from Inquiring into Applicants’ Criminal Records Prior to Making Conditional Offers of Employment

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP - June 12, 2015

On June 10, 2015, the New York City Council voted to amend the New York City Human Rights Law to prohibit employers from inquiring into the arrest or criminal conviction record of an applicant for employment prior to extending a conditional offer to the applicant.  The bill, termed the Fair Chance Act (“FCA”), permits employers to examine applicants’ criminal records after making such conditional offers.  An employer that rejects an applicant on the basis of a post-offer criminal record inquiry must provide a written explanation of the decision and allow the applicant at least three business days to respond to the explanation, while holding open the position sought by the applicant.  The act exempts employers from compliance in situations where applicable federal, state, or local laws or regulations require consideration of applicants’ criminal background information in connection with hiring decisions.  The FCA imposes requirements not established under either federal or New York State law and thus exposes employers to potentially inconsistent obligations.   

Mayor Bill de Blasio has signaled support for the bill and will likely sign it into law.  The amendment will take effect 120 days after its enactment.