Rochester, New York Bans the Box

The City of Rochester passed a new Article II to its Municipal Code entitled "Fair Employment Screening" (§63-12). Ordinance Number 2014-155 was adopted on May 22, 2014, and becomes effective November 18, 2014. The new ordinance prohibits the City of Rochester, its vendors, and any employer located within the City from asking about criminal history of applicants on any initial employment application.

In addition to the City and its vendors, the Ordinance applies to any entity which employs four or more persons and includes non-profit corporations, associations, and employment agencies or other placement or referral agencies.

The Ordinance makes it an unlawful, discriminatory practice for an employer to make an inquiry regarding, or to require any person to disclose or reveal, any criminal information during the application process.

The application process begins when the applicant inquire about employment and ends when the employer conducts an initial employment interview. If an interview is not conducted, the employer must inform the applicant whether a criminal background check will be conducted before employment begins.

The ordinance specifically prohibits employers from asking at any time for applicants to disclose information about any arrest that resulted in a Youthful Offender Adjudication, any arrest which was processed as a Juvenile Delinquency proceeding in family court, or any arrest or conviction which was sealed.

Inquiries specifically authorized by applicable law and positions where certain convictions are a bar to employment are exceptions to the ordinance. The City Police and Fire departments are exempt from the ordinance.

View the ordinance here.