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New York Pushing Enforcement of Law Prohibiting Discrimination in Felon Hiring

The New York Attorney General’s Office (AG) reached a settlement with a national retailer doing business in the state to end discrimination in the hiring of individuals with criminal records. the terms of settlement provide  the company will no longer disqualify individuals with felony records from advancing in the company.

The AG’s investigation uncovered statements made by a human resources manager for Party City a national retailer employing nearly 5,000 people in 49 stores across New York State, at a job fair, that the company did not hire individuals with felony conviction. A store manager in New York City confirmed persons with felony convictions could not obtain fulltime employment with the company. These statements and a review of Party City’s hiring decisions and its policies, procedures, and trainings led the AG to determine the company prohibited those with felony convictions from moving beyond part-time seasonal positions with it.

New York state law provide that before an employer can reject applicants based on their criminal history, the employer must individually assess the applicants record to determine whether it is relevant to the job. Specifically, the employer must consider several factors, including the nature and gravity of an applicant’s criminal conviction and its bearing if any on any specific responsibility of the job sought, the time that has elapsed since the conviction, the age of the applicant at the time when the offense was committed and the evidence of rehabilitation.

The settlement provider party City will revise its hiring policies and procedures, train employees to ensure for consideration of all applicants, conduct outreach and recruiting efforts with non-profits that specialize in job trainings and rehabilitation for those with criminal records, reconsider the applications of hundreds of applicants who were denied employment unlawfully, submit periodic compliance reports for three years, and pay a $95,000 penalty.

 “An applicant’s criminal history does not give an employer a right to slam the door in their face,” said AG Eric T. Schneiderman. “Reentry efforts provide critical opportunities to reduce recidivism, ensuring that everyone gets a fair shot and ultimately make our communities safer. My office will continue to enforce the law that prohibits employers from automatically disqualifying applicants based on criminal history.”

Nearly 650,000 individuals are released from state and federal prisons annually and another 12 million are funneled through local jails. According to the US department of Justice’s Bureaus of Justice Statistics, more than 100 million individuals have a criminal history on record.

PLN has reported on EEOC suits against employers on similar issues. Party City follows Bed, Bath, and Beyond in being forced by the AG to “Ban the Box” during enforcement proceedings on discrimination against felons in hiring.

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