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Background check firms sign deal on automatic rejections in New York

March 14 2014

Four background check companies signed agreements in New York State to avoid illegal hiring practices, the New York State Attorney General’s Office announced Thursday. The background check firms include HireRight Inc., First Advantage, General Information Services Inc. and Sterling Infosystems.

The deals prohibit the agencies from automatically disqualifying applicants with criminal records, according to the Attorney General’s Office. The deals also call for the agencies to defer hiring decisions to employers, who must conduct an individualized consideration of candidates in accordance with New York law.

The background check firms specifically agreed not to issue automatic rejection letters to job applicants because of a conviction on behalf of employers to ensure the employers conduct individualized assessments of the candidates, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

“New Yorkers who have paid their debt to society deserve a fair shot at employment opportunities,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “Background check agencies that implement blanket bans on hiring ex-offenders are violating New York State law.”

New York law requires employers consider a number of mitigating factors in making hiring decisions based on criminal history, according to the Attorney General’s Office. These include, for example, the nature and gravity of an applicant’s criminal conviction; its bearing on the specific responsibilities of the job; the time that has elapsed since conviction; the age of the applicant at the time when the offense was committed; and evidence of rehabilitation.

“Hiring policies and practices that automatically disqualify job candidates with criminal histories have contributed to the disproportionately high rates of unemployment seen in minority communities today,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. “These agreements will help transform the industry and will ensure that more African-Americans, Latinos and other communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs will have better access to equal employment opportunities.”

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