Candidate Criminal Background Checks are Outlawed in New York’s Suffolk County

On August 25th Suffolk County, NY, will join New York City and other major NY metropolitan districts in restricting pre-employment inquiries into an applicant’s criminal conviction history. The law will prohibit employers from inquiring into a job applicant’s criminal convictions or considering an applicant’s prior convictions until after an application has been submitted and an initial interview of the applicant has taken place. It will apply to all Suffolk County employers with 15 or more employees. Under the law, an applicant is defined as “any person considered or who requests to be considered for employment by an employer”. It includes applicants for temporary or seasonal work, and work through the services of a temporary or other employment firm.

Specifically, the new legislation makes it an unlawful discriminatory practice to:

  • inquire or require a candidate to disclose any criminal conviction during the application process. The application process begins when the applicant inquires about the potential position, and ends when an employer has accepted an employment application from the applicant.
  • inquire or require the candidate to disclose a criminal conviction before a first interview. If an employer does not conduct an interview, that employer must inform the applicant whether a criminal background check will be conducted before employment is to begin.

There are some exceptions to this new law:

  • If an employer is hiring for licensed trades or professions (including positions such as interns and apprentices for such licensed positions), the employer may ask the same questions asked by the trade or professional licensing body in accordance with state law.
  • Where authorized by any applicable law.
  • Where certain convictions or violations are a bar to employment in that position under state or federal law.

The prohibitions against pre-employment inquiries into an applicant’s criminal conviction history also do not apply to positions in any private or public school; any service provider of direct services specific to the care or supervision of children, young adults, senior citizens, or the physically or mentally disabled; or the Suffolk County Police Department, Department of Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Services, or any other employer hiring for “police officer” and “peace officer” as defined by the Criminal Procedure Law. 

To learn more contact us at