NYC bans criminal record questions before job offer

The so-called ban-the-box movement, which aims to curtail what it sees as improper discrimination against job applicants with criminal records, claims one of its biggest victories yet at the expense of private employers, with strong support from New York City’s left-leaning City Council. [Ford Harrison]

More: NYU lawprof James Jacobs, author of The Eternal Criminal Record, in a Cato podcast with Cato’s Tim Lynch (more) and guestblogging at Volokh Conspiracy in February first, second, third, fourth, fifth posts.


  • Without a regulation, employers have to inquire about criminal matters, as lack of doing so provides easy pickings in case of litigation about any of many matters. That is what discrimination regulation does. It spreads the cost of doing good, providing a chance for a person to earn his own bread in this case, over a large base. It is not to correct wrongs. On the whole, superior workers will be selected no matter what, as not doing so constitutes a tax on offending employers.

  • I wonder how this will affect programs intended to rehabilitate criminals. Not only do various organizations run such programs, but some private employers give preference to ex-cons for certain jobs. Will they now be unable to do so? I see how you can make an offer conditional on the applicant having a clean record; will some employers be put in the weird position of making offers of employment conditional on the applicant having a certain type of criminal record?

  • “So why is there this gap on your resume for the last three to five years?” “You can’t ask me that, it’s against the law for you to do so.”

  • Most jobs I work, the employer pays for DOJ live scan and in some cases a PI to run a background check. Are those now illegal or is this only pertaining to fast food and retail jobs?

  • It seems to me that this will be a boon for lawyers and government agencies.

    If a person is offered the job and then the offer is revoked because of the criminal background check turning something up, the law requires that the applicant be given a written statement as to why they were turned down. The ability to turn someone down is based on several shifting and nebulous criteria all of which are subject to review by people who don’t own businesses and don’t work in a for profit business.

    The sad thing is that with regulations like this, Mr. Olson will never run out of subject matter for this blog.

  • Is NYC going to apply this to applications for the police force also?