New York City Arrests and Convictions Employment Discrimination Lawyer

If you live or work in New York City and have been denied employment or fired from a job because you have a record of being arrested or have criminal convictions, the lawyers at Cary Kane LLP may be able to help.  It is against the law in New York State under certain circumstances for an employer with 10 or more employees to discriminate against job seekers or employees because of an arrest record or criminal conviction.  Call (212) 868-6300 to speak to a lawyer at Cary Kane if you think your rights to employment have been violated.  In New York City a company need only have 4 employees to be covered for this type of law.

Arrests and Employment Discrimination

New York State and New York City Human Rights laws make it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an applicant for employment and refuse to hire him or her because of an arrest record, where that arrest did not result in a conviction.  If the matter was adjourned in contemplation of dismissal and enough time has passed, that arrest cannot be used to not hire you.  It does not matter how many times you have been arrested.  If you still have an outstanding arrest that has not been adjudicated an employer could use the nature of the incident against you.

Other than a law enforcement agency, the federal government, and the Port Authority,  it is against the law for an employer to ask about arrests in an application or the interview.  For employers falling into the three exceptions,  a question about an arrest that did not lead to a conviction is a lawful question to be answered by you.  For other employers, it is not clear whether you can lie about arrests that did not lead to a criminal conviction, but if you did lie and this is the reason given for terminating your employment or not hiring you, Cary Kane may still take your case in order to test the limits of the law.

Convictions and Employment Discrimination

If the employer asks about criminal convictions on an application or in the interview the courts have upheld an employer’s right to fire you or not hire you because you lied on the application or in the interview.  You should disclose criminal convictions if you want the protection of the law.

The law requires an employer, other than a law enforcement agency, the federal government, or the Port Authority, to assess the nature and the age of the convictions to determine if there is a direct relationship between your convictions  and the job or whether you pose an unreasonable risk to the safety of the employer’s property , specific individuals, or the general public.  Absent such a finding, it is unlawful for the employer to hold the convictions against you.

Employer is Obligated to Give You a Reason for its Action

While normally an employer has no obligation to to give you a reason for deciding not to hire you, if you have a criminal conviction the law requires that the employer give you a reason in writing 30 days after asking for it.  Your request should be in writing sent in a way where you have proof of sending it and its receipt.  This can be by email, overnight mail, or certified mail, return receipt requested.

65 million Americans have a criminal record.  22 states put criminal convictions on the internet.  Many private consumer reporting agencies provide criminal background information in addition to credit information.  And many employers check criminal records when deciding to hire.  To legally use a consumer reporting agency, the prospective employer must get your permission in writing.  And if the employer takes an adverse employment action, like deciding not to hire you, because of information in the report the employer is required under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act to tell you and give you a copy of the report .  If you have asked for a reason for not hiring you in writing and the employer has not responded in 30 days, you should contact Cary Kane at (212) 868-6300 for help.

Federal Law May Also Help

While there is no federal law that explicitly makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against potential employees because of their history of  convictions, in the past few years the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the “EEOC”), has held that under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 blanket policies against hiring applicants with a history of criminal convictions may be discriminatory because the percentage of Black and Hispanic individuals with criminal convictions is greater than the percentage of white individuals with criminal convictions.  Here again, the employer must look to the nature of the job and the convictions to determine if an applicant’s criminal background may legally be held against him or her.

Speak to an Attorney Today if you have a Problem

If you have been denied employment because of an arrest record or a history of criminal convictions and believe it unfair, call Cary Kane LLP at (212) 868-6300 to speak to an attorney about a potential case against the employer.  Legal fees are paid by the employer if you win.


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