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Reentry Resource Center - New York

Serving People from Arrest to Reintegration

Challenging Employment Discrimination

Under New York law, employers and state agencies that issue licenses cannot reject job-seekers simply because they have criminal convictions. Legally, job-seekers can only be rejected if there is a direct relationship between the conviction and the job or license being sought, or if hiring the applicant would pose an unreasonable risk to persons or property. As the Corrections Law states, employers must look at job-seekers as individuals.

This section includes information about job seekers' rights and what steps to take if you believe that an employer has discriminated against you because of your conviction record, and how to prevent discrimination before it happens.


Employment Law & Criminal Records in New York State
Overview prepared by the Legal Aid Society of New York for the "On the Front Lines" conference, March 2010.
Employment Discrimination Fact Sheet for Workers (National Employment Law Center)
National Employment Law Project "Know Your Rights" Fact Sheet on Employment Discrimination, with useful contact information.
Are You Somebody With... HIV/AIDS, a criminal history, or a history of drug or alcohol use? (Legal Action Center)
Booklet for people with HIV/AIDS, criminal records, drug and alcohol history, or in methadone programs. This booklet is meant to help you PREVENT employment discrimination before it happens.

Criminal Background Checks: What are your rights? (National HIRE Network)

Article prepared by the National HIRE Network explains employees job seekers' rights concerning criminal background checks. The article discusses employer and consumer reporting agencies duties under FCRA, how a person can report inaccuracies on a criminal record report and misconduct by reporting agencies, and highlights additional protections in state laws.

New York State Division of Human Rights: How to File an Employment Discrimination Claim
Instructions on filing claims of employment discrimination based on criminal record.
Division of Human Rights/Human Rights Complaints
Job applicants with conviction histories are protected from unfair discrimination by the New York State Human Rights Law (NYS Exec Law §296 (15) & (16)) and the New York City Human Rights Law (NYC Admin. Code § 8-107(11)), as well as the New York State Correction Law (§§750-755). Links to the text of these statutes may be found in the Law & Regulations sub-folder of this Library.

Individuals who think they have been unlawfully discriminated against may file a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights. If the employer is in New York City, the applicant may file a complaint with the New York City Commission on Human Rights. This folder contains sample complaints.

Sample Letters to Employers
Reentry folder with a collection of sample letters explaining protections for job seekers with criminal records, presenting Certificates of Relief, disputing unlawful termination...

Pro Bono and legal aid attorney resources - Pro Bono Net