Criminal background checks for employment purposes

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Can I refuse to hire an applicant because he or she has a criminal record? Article A of the New York Correction Law prohibits employers from denying an applicant employment because the applicant was previously convicted of one or more criminal offenses. There are a few areas of employment where Article A does not apply, such as job positions in any law enforcement agency. Otherwise, all private employers with ten employees or more are subject to this law. Article A requires that employers consider several factors in determining whether an applicant may be denied employment based on past criminal convictions.

The employer must consider:.

Answers to Questions About Pre-Employment Background Screening

Also, if the applicant has been issued a certificate of relief from disabilities or a certificate of good conduct, the employer must take that into consideration. The certificate creates a presumption of rehabilitation , meaning that the employer must take it as evidence that the applicant has been rehabilitated. What is the difference between a certificate of relief from disabilities and a certificate of good conduct?

Past employment discrimination cases provide guidance for weighing the Article A factors.

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Examples from these cases demonstrate that a greater number of convictions, or convictions of criminal offenses that sound more serious, do not necessarily disqualify a job applicant. Instead, greater consideration is often given to the amount of time that has elapsed since the offense occurred. However, it is important to remember that the employer must consider each applicant on a case-by-case basis. What if I consider all the factors and decide not to offer the applicant a job? If, after considering the required factors, the employer chooses to deny the applicant employment, the applicant is entitled to a written statement giving the reasons for this denial.

If I do offer the applicant a job, can I later be held liable for negligent hiring? Of all the negligent hiring claims previously filed in the state of New York, less than ten percent were based on the hiring of persons with criminal records.

What does a background check show for pre-employment screening?

In such cases, the plaintiff won about half the time. If a negligent hiring claim was filed against me, how could I effectively defend myself? The legal standard for all negligent hiring claims in New York is the same; it does not matter whether the employee was previously convicted of a criminal offense.

In other words, the judge will evaluate whether the alleged acts of the employee were foreseeable by the employer. However, keep in mind that prior case law also suggests that once hiring procedures are developed, they must be followed. New York state courts are more likely to find for the employer if that employer properly implemented its own hiring policies. It is our opinion that lying is an unacceptable practice and you are within your rights to not hire or terminate individuals who based on the questions you ask, has lied, omitted, or misrepresented themselves on an application or in an interview.

The information should not be incomplete or duplicative and you should only be considering disposition information that indicates the crime for which the person was convicted, not arrest charge s , arraignment charges, or charges that were satisfied or covered by the charge the person pled guilty to. Are there resources my company could utilize if I hire someone with a criminal record? A conviction is a final judgment such as by a guilty verdict that a person is guilty of a crime. When reviewing an applicant's criminal history, remember to look out for missing, duplicative, or misleading information, which are all very likely to exist on a report.

Remember, these reports do not give you a full picture of the person applying for a job.


New York State Law requires you to take the time to find out more from the individual at an interview or from other verifiable sources in order to make a fair and more accurate assessment of the job seeker. Here are some important things to keep in mind:. H elping I ndividuals with criminal records R eenter through E mployment. Protecting yourself when using criminal background checks The National HIRE Network recognizes that employers have legitimate concerns about hiring job applicants with criminal records.

What type of notification is required? Employers can only look into certain records with your consent. For example, school records are confidential and cannot be released without the consent of the student. Military service records are also confidential and can only be released under certain circumstances.

Background Check for Employment – Types, Benefits & Regulations

However, the military can disclose your name, rank, salary, assignments, and awards without your consent. You cannot be discriminated against because you filed for bankruptcy; however, bankruptcies are a public record, so it is easy for employers to obtain the information. Laws also vary from state to state regarding some background checks. For example, some states don't allow questions about arrests or convictions beyond a certain point in the past.

Others only allow consideration of criminal history for certain positions. In many states, medical records are also confidential. However, employers may not make hiring decisions based on an applicant's disability.

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  6. They may only inquire about your ability to perform a certain job. The best way to prepare for a background check is to be aware of the information that an employer might find. If there is erroneous information, dispute it with the creditor or other source. Check your motor vehicle record by requesting a copy of your record from your state department of motor vehicles.

    Job Seekers: What to Expect from a Background Check

    Do the same with your other records, including your education, court records, and more. Also ask your previous employers for copies of your personnel files. Fortunately, performing background checks on applicants and employees is an effective way to discover potential issues that could affect your business. HireRight provides more than background screening services across more than countries and territories. Our focus is to develop innovative and agile solutions designed to meet the screening needs of our customers while anticipating the future evolution of the screening industry.

    You too can depend on HireRight as your background check company to provide your organization with an intelligent approach to screening — one that is grounded in years of trusted experience in helping clients make sound, fast decisions with confidence. Learn More.

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