Yesterday, Council Member Jumaane D. Williams (D-Brooklyn), Deputy Leader, and Chair of the Council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings, was joined by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Council Members Corey Johnson, Ritchie Torres, Daniel Dromm, Andy King and advocacy groups, during a press conference prior to a Council hearing on the New York City Fair Chance Act. Council Member Williams is the co-lead sponsor of the Into. 318, which will ‘Ban the Box’ from employment applications, ensuring that all New Yorkers, even those with a criminal record, have an equal opportunity to compete for a job.
The legislation fits into a national trend of expanding access to employment as a way to lower recidivism and ensure employers consider all qualified applicants and not overlook the candidate who might become their best employee. To date, 13 states and nearly 90 cities and counties have adopted fair-chance ordinances, including Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Buffalo, and Rochester. Full Release
WHAT PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS MEMBERS SAY:
“I am proud to work with such a vibrant group of advocates and elected officials to get the New York City Fair Chance Act passed,” said Council Member Williams. “Once enacted into law, this bill will ensure that all New Yorkers, including those with convictions for previous mistakes, will have an equal opportunity to compete for jobs they are qualified for. Though the legislation does not require employers to hire any particular applicant, it delays the background check, thus supplementing preexisting law that says employers cannot deny a job because of a record unless there is a direct relationship to the job. Not only does employment strengthen communities and lower recidivism, but employers will have access to a broader range of qualified candidates to consider.”
“I want to express my gratitude to Chair Mealy for hearing Intro 318, which will give all qualified applicants a fair chance to compete for jobs by deferring questions about criminal history. More than five million New Yorkers with records will benefit from the chance to demonstrate their qualifications, and employers will be presented with a broader range of candidates from which to choose. Many employers report that it is people with criminal records who often work harder, are more willing to stay at a job for a longer period of time, and develop into valuable leaders,” said Council Member Corey Johnson.
“Too many New Yorkers, particularly young men of color, are denied the opportunity to be employed due to their criminal history. We have a responsibility to expand access to jobs for all New Yorkers, especially because employment reduces recidivism and strengthens our communities,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres.
“New Yorkers believe in the power of a second chance. Having started a prisoner re-entry program when I ran the Fifth Avenue Committee, I’ve long witnessed the barriers that formerly incarcerated individuals face when trying to get back on their feet, said Council Member Brad Lander. “The Fair Chance Act will remove a key barrier, make sure we stop punishing those who have already served their time, and offer the chance at a fresh start to New Yorkers who need it most.”
IN THE NEWS
NY Daily News: City Council debates ‘ban the box’ legislation
The National Law Review: New York City Council Debates Expansive “Ban the Box” Bill
Law and the Workplace: NYC Council Debates Expansive “Ban the Box” Bill