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Legislative Memo

Frank Kerbein
Director, Center for Human Resources
T 518.465.7517 x210
www.bcnys.org

BILL:

S.3357 (Hassell-Thompson) / A.4887 (Sepulveda)

Support

SUBJECT:

Changes the Definition of "Direct Relationship" in the Corrections Law

 

DATE:

March 19, 2013

 

Under limited circumstances, an employer can deny employment or decide not to continue employment of a person convicted of a crime based on the direct relationship between the crime and the duties and responsibilities of the job. This bill would change the definition of "direct relationship' in the corrections law. The Business Council opposes enactment of this bill.

The current definition of "direct relationship" should stand

This change is not needed. The proposal adds a requirement that there be a "substantial" connection between the nature of the crime and the duties and responsibilities of the job, rather than the nature of the criminal conduct having a direct bearing on fitness or ability to perform the job. This would add a significant and probably impossible standard (what's the definition of substantial?) for the employer to overcome.

Evaluating risk

After navigating the impossible standard of "substantial," the employer would then have to also prove that the hiring or continued employment of the individual would create an "unreasonable risk" to property or safety of people.

Currently, section 752 of the correction law prohibits discrimination unless there is either a direct relationship or creates an "unreasonable risk" to property or safety of people.

This proposal would require both conditions to be met, not either, as is currently required.

The current correction law requirements provide an appropriate balance of employee/applicant and employer interests and should not be changed.

Enforcement of current law

Nonetheless, the Sponsor states, "Unfortunately, many employers maintain blanket barriers to employment based solely on criminal conviction records even when the conviction may be completely unrelated to the job sought and no threat to the public or property is present." This situation is prohibited under the current language in the corrections law so if an employer currently ignores the law, the changes proposed won't change a thing. It will be the vast majority of conscientious employers who will bear the additional administrative and legal burden of this bill as they try to insure that they have the most qualified applicants and employees to serve their customers.

For these reasons, The Business Council opposes this legislation and urges that it not be enacted by the New York State Assembly.