New York State Legislators Propose the Clean Slate Act
The New York State Legislature is currently voting on a bill known as the “Clean Slate Act”. The main thrust of this bill is the sealing of certain convictions from public record (especially from prospective employers). This includes misdemeanor counts as well as felony counts. Misdemeanors would be eligible for sealing 3 years after conviction and felonies would be eligible 8 years after conviction.
Under the proposed law, employers would be prohibited from asking a potential applicant about any conviction that has been sealed. Furthermore, employers may not discriminate against any employee or applicant based on a conviction that has been sealed.
Not all felonies are eligible for sealing. The most important exceptions in the bill are:
- Class A felonies (such as murder and serious sexual predation);
- Felonies requiring the offender to register on the sex offender registry;
- Felonies committed in other states;
- Federal felonies
There are also several employment situations in which such convictions may be “unsealed”:
- A position dealing with the safety and wellbeing of children, adolescents, elderly individuals, individuals with disabilities and other vulnerable populations;
- A position as a police officer;
- A position with a transportation network company (for the purposes of determining traffic record)
Although this legislation imposes some new restrictions upon employers, it also offers them some protections. The law states that employers have protection from negligence lawsuits if the employer hired the employee while unaware of their criminal history as a result of this law. The law further gives employers protection in that, as long as the employer is acting in good faith and reasonably, there is no duty to investigate a prior conviction sealed by this law.
Employers should be prepared to alter or remove application questions dealing with misdemeanors and felony convictions (except those permitted by this potential new law). You can read the entire bill HERE.