The city of Rochester recently joined Buffalo in taking steps to reduce discrimination against job applicants with a criminal record.

According to a New York Times editorial, about one in four adults in the United States has a criminal record. The collateral consequences of a criminal record are sometimes worse than the punishment suffered after conviction.

Future penalties associated with a criminal record include:

  • Loss of employment opportunities
  • Social stigma
  • Potential damage to credit rating
  • Lost educational, residential and travel opportunities

Employment is necessary to live productively in society. “Ban the Box” initiatives prohibit potential employers from asking about criminal history prior to an initial interview. The question is often posed as a checkbox question — the reason to ban the “box.”

Research performed by the Center for Public Safety Initiatives in Rochester notes screening of applicants for criminal history is common. When applicants report they have a criminal record, job applications are usually set aside in favor of those with no criminal past.

In late May, Rochester joined approximately 56 other cities and counties in the United States that ban required disclosure of a criminal record during a pre-employment screen. Features of the new ordinance include:

  • The new legislation applies to employers with four or more employees.
  • The legislation impacts full and part-time jobs, seasonal, temporary, contract and work arranged through an employment agency.
  • Some employers with the authority to inquire about a criminal record may still do so.
  • The ordinance is effective on November 18, 2014.

It is often difficult to get a job even without a criminal record. If you experience discrimination in the New York workplace, speak with an experienced employment attorney.