New York fines employer for criminal history discrimination

In a competitive job market, it may seem like employers look for any reason to weed out job candidates. Though this may be a convenient way to sort through job applicants, the process must be done in accord with New York and federal employment laws. These statutes prevent employers from discriminating against employees and job applicants.

A medical company, Quest Diagnostics, was recently the subject of scrutiny from New York officials. According to the Attorney General’s Office, Quest was rejecting job applicants simply because they had a criminal record without taking any other factors into consideration. This was an a violation of state law.

An investigation into Quest’s hiring practices found that internal company policies were aligned with the law, but the company didn’t follow them. Rather than rejecting someone applying for a position simply because they have a mark on their record, employers must look at the specific charge and whether it will impact job-related duties.

Although the employer didn’t admit engaging in employee discrimination or violating any laws, they agreed to pay a $70,000 in a settlement with the state. The hope is that this will serve as a strong incentive to examine hiring practices and make sure they are consistent with state and federal statutes.

When someone with a criminal conviction — no matter how minor — is looking for a job, they may feel like they are at a severe disadvantage. No one deserves to be treated unfairly while looking for work or on the job, which is what the law aims to prevent. As it relates to this particular case, it may be advisable to give a qualified job applicant a second chance, particularly if they’ve made amends for their legal trouble.

Source: The Star-Ledger, “Quest Diagnostics settles employment discrimination claim,” Ed Beeson, May 9, 2013

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