NEW YORK – Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory has proposed legislation removing the conviction history “check box” from job applications.
Presiding Officer Gregory said that eliminating the check box is a proven method of increasing employment opportunities for individuals with criminal convictions. Instead of having their application thrown out on the basis of one answer, applicants are able to obtain interviews and employment regardless of their conviction status. Statistics show that disclosing an arrest or
conviction on a job application reduces the likelihood of being called for an interview by 50%, regardless of an applicant’s merits or the relevance of such conviction to the job duties.
Presiding Officer Gregory said that allowing individuals with convictions to fairly obtain employment is good for the economy and for business, increasing individual tax contributions, boosting consumption and sales tax and saving tax dollars by keeping people out of the criminal justice system.
“If an individual with a conviction has a job application thrown out without a second glance, it will increase the risk of recidivism for that person,” said Presiding Officer Gregory. “If that person can’t find meaningful employment a return to a life of crime becomes a distinct possibility. That poses a safety threat to all our citizens and also costs an enormous amount of money for law enforcement and prisons and society as a whole. Many of these people with felony convictions are just looking for a chance to turn their lives around. We have to give them that chance.”
Presiding Officer Gregory noted that under his legislation, entitled “A local law to ensure fair employment in Suffolk County,” questions about arrest records can be asked by a potential employer after a “conditional offer of employment” has been made.
Before taking any adverse employment action based on that inquiry, the employer must provide a written copy of the inquiry to the applicant, including the reasons for any adverse action envisioned.
After giving the applicant the inquiry and analysis in writing, the employer shall provide the applicant with at least three business days to respond, holding the position open during that time.
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