Have a Criminal Record? It Soon Might Not Hold You Back From Getting a Job in NYC


A job can keep a man out of prison. The catch is that the people statistically most likely to go to prison–those who have spent time in prison before–are also the people statistically least likely to get a job. The studies vary a bit: the unemployment rate is somewhere between 50 and 75 percent for former prisoners a year after release.

The job market is competitive enough these days. An application with a check mark in that box beside “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” is sometimes just one less application a prospective employer has to read.

New York City may even that playing field this week.

City council members intend to propose a bill prohibiting businesses from asking job seekers about their criminal record, the Daily News reported. The council will introduce the bill, which is sponsored by Brooklyn councilman Jumaane Williams, this week.

The bill, dubbed the “Fair Chance Act” would establish that employers could only ask an applicant about any criminal past after offering the job. At that point, the business could not take back the offer unless the applicant’s crime was specifically related to the job.

This policy already applies to government employment. The bill would not cover jobs that require background checks, according to the News.

Business that violate the policy would face a fine.