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For potential employees entering the job world that have criminal histories, finding that job can be extremely difficult given the nature of their crime. With more and more companies conducting background checks on prospective team members, the chances of that history arising are very likely. However, in New York City, the Fair Chance Act prevents most businesses from accessing this information.

This act makes it illegal for employers in New York City to inquire about an applicant’s criminal history before offering them a position at their business. Though not all companies are covered by this act (positions in law enforcement), employers are not allowed to discuss criminal history during the application process, or during the interview. The idea behind this movement is to give applicants with criminal pasts equal opportunities in receiving job offers, without being judged based on their prior convictions.

While this is a positive step forward in readmitting efficient employees to society and the working world, it can be somewhat worrying to employers who hold very high standards throughout their hiring processes. However, once the applicant is hired, managers are then able to request information regarding the new employee’s criminal history. Should they discover any incriminating evidence that they feel justifies revoking the job offer, an explanation as to why they’ve done so is required using the Fair Chance Act Notice, along with a copy of the background check conducted, and the report they relied on to confirm the applicant’s criminal past.

The positives of the Fair Chance Act involve giving those who wish to redeem their pasts a second chance in joining today’s workforce, and potentially leading to stronger businesses, and a thriving economy. For business owners, this can understandably be troubling, but it should teach those to enter the hiring process with no bias, and judge and applicant based solely on his or her credentials. Should you as a manager stress the importance of background checks (as most do), look into the new hire’s past after you’ve given them a fair chance to display their skills relative to the position. An effective business owner is one that gives every potential employee the opportunity to present themselves in a professional manner.