New York recently enacted three pieces of legislation aimed at enhancing employment opportunities for individuals with prior criminal convictions, as well as providing some protection for employers against claims of negligent hiring. The new laws relate to Article 23-A of New York’s Correction Law, which requires employers to consider and balance a number of factors before terminating or refusing to hire individuals with a prior criminal conviction. Article 23-A does not apply where there is a specific legal prohibition on hiring applicants with a criminal history.

Effective February, 2009, employers are required, as part of their background check process, to provide a copy of Article 23-A to individuals subject to background checks. Employers also are required to post a copy of Article 23-A of the Correction Law in a visually conspicuous manner in the workplace.

Additionally, the New York State Human Rights Law has been amended to protect New York employers from negligent hiring claims in the event that an employee with a criminal conviction causes harm in the workplace. Under the amendment, if an employer has evaluated an applicant’s criminal history in accordance with the Article 23-A factors and decided in good faith to hire the individual, then the employer is afforded a rebuttable presumption that information regarding the individual’s criminal background should be excluded from evidence in a negligent hiring claim.