New York's Clean Slate Act: Opening Opportunities and Considerations for Employers

NY Clean Slate Act

On November 16, 2023, New York Governor Kathy Hochul enacted a transformative piece of legislation—the Clean Slate Act. This landmark law aims to reshape the professional landscape for individuals with certain past criminal convictions by mandating the sealing of these records. The Clean Slate Act marks a significant stride towards fostering equal opportunities for individuals with past convictions in New York. Employers must stay informed, adapt practices, and leverage the right resources to navigate these changes seamlessly. Here's an in-depth look at the critical components of the Clean Slate Act and its potential implications for employers.

Clean Slate Act Highlights

The Clean Slate Act, officially known as Assembly Bill A01029C and Senate Bill S07551-A, introduces a structured framework for sealing eligible convictions:

  • Sealing Timeframe: Misdemeanor convictions become eligible for sealing "at least three years" after the individual's release or sentence satisfaction. Eligible felony convictions can be sealed "at least eight years" after release or sentence satisfaction.
  • Exclusions: Certain serious offenses, like sex offenses or Class A felonies (e.g., aggravated murder), are excluded from sealing eligibility. Exceptions exist for specific circumstances, allowing access to sealed convictions when deemed "relevant and necessary." This applies, for instance, to criminal background checks for licenses and particular employment involving responsibilities for vulnerable populations.
  • Private Right of Action: Individuals with sealed convictions can pursue legal action against those who knowingly disclose their sealed records, provided the disclosure leads to demonstrable harm.

Next Steps for Employers

  • Understanding the Clean Slate Act: The law underscores New York State's commitment to combating discrimination based on criminal histories. Employers need to grasp the nuances of this legislation to align their practices with its principles.
  • Impact on Background Checks and Hiring: Employers should anticipate potential shifts in their background check procedures and hiring processes. The Clean Slate Act aims to level the playing field, making it crucial for businesses to reassess how they evaluate applicants with specific criminal histories.
  • Expanding the Labor Pool: As one of several states adopting clean slate laws, New York's move could broaden the pool of eligible workers. Due to these inclusive legislative changes, employers might find a more diverse talent pool.

How Can DISA Help Keep My Workplace Safe?

Safety concerns remain a top priority for employers. The implementation of robust reasonable suspicion programs is vital. Managers and supervisors should be well-trained to identify behaviors associated with drug or alcohol use, ensuring clear documentation of observations. In situations where a worker is caught using or possessing substances at work, prompt testing and comprehensive documentation become imperative.

Navigating the evolving landscape of employment law, especially in states with progressive regulations like New York, can be complex. At DISA Global Solutions, we understand employers' challenges in adapting to legislative changes. Our comprehensive background screening services, tailored to comply with state-specific laws, can be crucial in maintaining compliance and making informed hiring decisions. DISA’s committed to supporting businesses in their compliance journey, ensuring fair and informed hiring practices in alignment with the evolving legal landscape.

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About DISA Global Solutions 

Founded in 1986, DISA is the industry-leading provider of employee screening and compliance services. Headquartered in Houston, with more than 35 offices throughout North America and Europe, DISA’s comprehensive scope of services includes drug and alcohol testing, background screening, occupational health, and transportation compliance. DISA assists employers in making informed staffing decisions while building a culture of safety in their workplace.

DISA Global Solutions aims to provide accurate and informative content for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The reader retains full responsibility for the use of the information contained herein. Always consult with a professional or legal expert.