Skip to comments.Syracuse law would restrict employers' use of criminal background checks
Posted on 02/06/2013 4:39:43 PM PST by Behind Liberal Lines
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Two city councilors today proposed legislation that would make it illegal for any Syracuse employer to ask a job applicant whether he or she has been convicted of a crime -- unless the employer is ready to offer that applicant a job....
By deferring questions about past crimes until after a conditional job offer has been made, the law would give ex-convicts a better chance to impress potential employers, Bey said. What were saying is, allow them an opportunity to demonstrate their talent, he said....
Under the proposed law, an employee from the citys department of neighborhood and business development would be responsible for enforcement. First-time violators would be fined $500, and second violations would bring a $1,000 fine.
(Excerpt) Read more at syracuse.com ...
Apparently politicians are looking for a leg up in their future career changes.
Just another reason to have a business in NY. What a bunch of idiots.
Meanwhile law abiding citizens have to submit to background checks if they are thinking about buying a firearm.
Doesn’t make a difference. Anybody can do a criminal background check on anybody else. For no reason at all, no one would know.
“Good plan: protect criminals and criminalize business (rolleyes)”
I have mixed feelings about this... And as someone who has never done anything wrong, I think I can speak to this. /s
Seriously, all of us have broken the law. Some have been caught and some of us have not. (yet) If a person has been caught and has paid “his debt to society”, why should it be an issue? If he hasn’t, then why is he still not in jail?
I worked at a background screening company. There is nothing worse than coming across a murder conviction, assault with a deadly weapon or rape conviction from twenty years ago that the person thought wouldn’t be discovered. And believe me, people lie, change their names umpteen times thinking the system can’t catch them and you wouldn’t believe the crimes they think they shouldn’t be held accountable for as ‘they paid their dues’ with a hardcore prison term.
God help the people of Syracuse. It will take the molestation and murder of a child by a convicted pedophile whose background wasn’t vetted properly as a result of this insaneness to right the ship.
I can tell you as a payroll and HR professional that the majority of employers do not run criminal background checks on applicants until they are ready to make a job offer or have made a conditional job offer. Why? Because it is way too expensive to do so for each and every applicant who comes through the door and is unnecessary. They may ask the question on the application and we do for hourly, non-professional positions, but for professional positions that come in as resumes or through agencies (headhunters), we dont have the applicant even fill out an application or sign the authorization for a background check until at least after the 1st and more often the 2nd interview when we are ready to make a job offer.
And we weigh what the applicant puts on their application, which they sign and attest to being true against what comes in on the background check lie on your application and youre out. But a prior conviction is not automatically a no-go depending on the type, how long ago it was and the type of position for which we are hiring.
Say for instance someone applying for a manufacturing job had a DWI or simple assault 25 years ago but has had no subsequent DWIs or assaults or anything else on their record come up, we may still hire that person. OTHO, if someone had a recent conviction for say embezzlement and was applying for a position in accounting well, probably not.
“There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible to live without breaking laws.”
— Ayn Rand, “Atlas Shrugged”
Your point is well taken. However, shouldn't the hiring decision be up the employer and not the government?
There are two simple fixes to improve convict employment opportunities:
1. eliminate the minimum wage (conservatives should propose this just for convicts - like a mini-free trade zone it would disrupt the urban Dem machines control and soon all urban unemployed would ask for the same) Just call it a training wage or a proving wage or something and give it a 12 month life, unless extended by the employee.
2. indemnify corporations for the criminal acts of ex-cons committed while employed by the company.
...and this law will give them one more statute to misuse, correct?
FYI - asking for an SSN and DOB on an employment application or during an interview is illegal, hence the separate signed release forms that most employers ask for only at the time of a conditional job offer in order to run a background check through a legitimate professional background check provider. And a lot of these cheap internet services where you or anyone provide just a name and a state, city or even address and where you are not required to provide a signed release, SSN and DOB and they do not run matches against them, are often not reliable, they just run a query against other internet databases and a lot of what they return is not accurate.
Out of curiosity I once ran one of these cheap internet background checks on myself and half of what it turned up was inaccurate, no criminal records but half the addresses and dates were wrong, my DOB was wrong (it said it was 10+ years older than actually am) it showed my most recent employer but it showed before that only a job I had some 10 years earlier, making it appear that I hadnt worked for 10 years and it also showed my present address as being that of my ex-husband and his new wife (which would have been a big shock to them both) and it showed my ex as having not only resided at the house that I bought and lived in for five years after our divorce as being his address also but also him being a co-owner of the house I bought on my own.
Any employer, who runs a pre-employment background check using one of these cheap scam internet services and without a signed release and a cross check of SSN and DOB, is asking for big trouble legally. With a legitimate service and in a case where an employer rejects an applicant based on the findings of the background check, just as with a legitimate credit reporting agency, the applicant will be informed, has to legally be informed of a negative finding with instructions on how to contact the reporting agency(s) and if they believe there is a mistake, and how to correct it.
FWIW, I was friends with a guy who was a Naval officer with a rather high SC, worked for NSA, who relocated from CA to MD and evidently someone with his same rather common name, had not only lived in his former town but at one time in his former apartment complex and this guy not only had several outstanding CA tickets but a few outstanding arrest warrants and my friend not only had a heck of a time getting an MD drivers license but for a short time, ended up on a no-fly list before he was able to finally clear things up.
Im sure its different state to state. But in The Socialist Republic of MN, the state has a website where you can look up anybody’s records. For free, all you need is a name.
I believe that all court cases, excepting for sealed family court cases, are a matter of public record and most states and counties have searchable databases, so yes, you are correct, it is free and all you need is a name.
However, the problem is without a DOB or a SSN and with someone with a rather common name it can be difficult to determine if you have the right person. I searched the database you linked to on criminal cases closed on the name Joseph Brown and I came up with a lot of results, some with the name, Joseph Brown but with different DOBs but of a similar age, and many Joseph Browns with different middle names but again some with the same but different DOBs.
Another problem for some larger employers like the one I work for is that we hire in multiple states and we do a lot of hiring and so it would be impractical for someone in our department to search all these databases and hope we have the right person. Not to mention that some people, like myself have lived in several different states.
So it is worth the expense for us to use a reputable background check service that will not only perform criminal background checks but also DMV record checks (i.e. non-criminal moving violations), employment and educational verifications and reference checks (and credit checks if we chose to do those) all for a single and reasonable fee. But they will not perform these checks without a signed release from the applicant, the legally acceptable form for that particular state and an SSN and DOB and as I said, it is illegal to ask for an SSN and DOB on a job application.
And by having the applicant sign a release for a background check, it not only protects the employer from possible lawsuits if we were to perform an unauthorized background check and refuse employment to someone based on false results, it also protects the applicant as by signing the release, it also gives them the opportunity to question negative results that they believe are in error just like you do when you apply for credit or a mortgage if some of the information on your credit report is in error; it protects you and gives you the opportunity to rightfully dispute either inaccurate records or prove you are not the same person as the one that some database says has a criminal record.
And FWIW, I receive and process lots of requests for employment verifications for current employees when they apply for mortgages, car loans, etc. and for former employees when they apply for new employment and I will absolutely not give verbal verification of employment or salary information over the phone, I absolutely require they provide a release signed by the employee before I will even affirm that the person is or ever was our employee. Someone calling me claiming to be from XYZ Bank may not be who they say they are, could be a stalker, crazy ex, someone with a vendetta or someone trying to engage in identity theft, so no copy of a signed release absolutely no information is given. The only exception is court ordered child support and IRS and state garnishment requests and they are never done by phone and always by a standard form via mail.
All that being said, I think the proposed Syracuse, NY legislation, not allowing an employer to ask a job applicant whether he or she has been convicted of a crime is stupid. But at the end of the day, an applicant can still lie or omit things on their application and only by performing a background check can an employer verify and most employers are not going to go to the trouble and expense either in money or effort of doing that unless they are ready to make a job offer anyway. This is just another example of how legislators make it more difficult for businesses to operate, burden them with needless regulations and I bet dollars to doughnuts that neither of these morons have ever run a business themselves or even had a real job in the real world.