The New York City Fair Chance Act (FCA) goes into effect today, October 27, and applies to any employers in New York City with four or more employees. The FCA amends the New York City Human Rights Law and significantly limits how employers in New York City may use an applicant’s criminal history in making employment decisions.

As we previously posted, the FCA contains, among other things, the following pre-offer restrictions:

  • Employers are prohibited from, either directly or indirectly, indicating that there is any limitation for a position based on a person’s arrest or criminal conviction record; and
  • Employers cannot make any inquiry into an applicant’s arrest or criminal conviction record until after extending a conditional offer of employment.

The FCA also contains restrictions on an employer’s ability to revoke a conditional offer based upon the results of a criminal background check. New York State law already restricts the ability of an employer to revoke a conditional offer. Under New York State law, a conditional offer may be revoked only after the employer considers specific factors enumerated in the Correction Law § 753 and determines, based upon those factors, that:

  1. There is a direct relationship between one or more of the previous criminal offenses and the … employment sought or held by the individual; or
  2. The granting or continuation of employment would involve an unreasonable risk to property or to the safety or welfare of specific individuals or the general public.

The FCA goes further than the existing state law and requires employers in New York City to provide an individual whose conditional offer is being revoked with the “analysis and factors used to make the decision” on a form created by the NYC Commission on Human Rights, which can be found here.

The FCA and the New York City Stop Discrimination in Employment Act (which prohibits most employers from considering an applicant’s credit history and was discussed in a previous post here) have significantly changed the ability of employers in New York City to use background checks in making employment decisions. New York City employers are well advised to seek legal counsel before making any adverse employment decisions based upon the results of a background check.