Rochester, New York joins many other cities and states in “banning the box,” prohibiting most employers (with limited exceptions) from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history, including on an application, before the candidate is interviewed, or if no interview is to take place, before a conditional offer of employment is made. Nearby cities such as Baltimore, Buffalo, Newark, and Philadelphia, and states such as Massachusetts and Rhode Island, among others, have also passed similar legislation. Limited exceptions to Rochester’s law include private employers with fewer than four employees, employers authorized by law to inquire about criminal history, applicants for police officer or peace officer positions (as defined by statute) or for certain positions in the Rochester police or fire departments, and positions for which the law deems a criminal conviction to be a bar to employment.
New York employers are reminded that the Empire State already bans discrimination against applicants and employees based on their criminal backgrounds, and requires employers to conduct a multi-factor inquiry before taking any adverse employment action against, including not hiring, an individual based on a criminal record.
Prior to November 18, 2014, the effective date of Rochester’s newly adopted ban-the-box law, employers within the city should ensure that their hiring practices, policies, and forms are updated.