New York City’s “Ban the Box” law, the Fair Chance Act, went into effect Tuesday, October 27, 2015 prohibiting employers in the city from inquiring criminal history of job applicants until the final stages of the hiring process.

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The Fair Chance Act, a law that amends the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) effectively gives five million New Yorkers a better chance of being hired; It targets private companies and it bars them from conducting criminal background checks, asking about past convictions on applications and during interviews, and advertising or soliciting job offers with requirements regarding the arrest or conviction history of job applicants — “until a conditional offer of employment is extended to applicants.”

“Ban the Box” initiative was first introduced in City Council in 2014 by Council Member Jumaane Williams and later was signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio in late June.


“Today, we ‘ban the box’ in New York City. This bill opens the door to jobs for New Yorkers who have already paid their debt to society, rather than condemning them to a grim economic future. Now, all applicants will get a fair shot at the opportunities that can lead them on a pathway to success,”

said Mayor de Blasio. “I want to thank Speaker Mark-Viverito for her leadership, as well as Manhattan Borough President Brewer and Council Member Williams for sponsoring this legislation.”

Alyssa Aguilera, political director at VOCAL-NY, an advocacy group that was very much involved in pushing the law, said the bill applies to every employer in New York City with more than four employers, and that an estimated 2.5 million people in the city have a criminal record.

“If we’re having these conversations on the federal level about releasing people that have certain convictions and reducing sentences, that can’t happen without eliminating the associated consequences of a criminal record like employment discrimination,” Aguilera says. “When people are back in our communities, they need a chance to work. And if they don’t have that opportunity, then that’s only going to continue to perpetuate that recidivism and perpetuate poverty in communities of color. Everyone deserves a fair chance to work, and that’s what this law will provide.”

-Sherley Boursiquot

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