New York State Background Check: A Complete Guide [2022]

In New York, employers know the importance of finding the most qualified and trustworthy employees to fill their open positions.

When employers fail to complete comprehensive pre-employment background checks during the hiring process, they could be exposed to legal liability through negligent hiring lawsuits and other losses.

new york background check New York employment background checks are critical components of a good hiring and onboarding process. When you work with a reputable provider of employment background checks in New York like iprospectcheck, you can be confident that you will receive comprehensive, FCRA-compliant, and up-to-date information about your job candidates.

We know all of the various aspects of the employment background check process in New York and provide comprehensive employment background check reports each year to employers in New York City, Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, and more.

To help you understand the requirements of New York pre-employment background checks, we have provided an overview explaining how your company can remain compliant with federal and state laws.

Let’s get started.

New York Employment Background Check Laws 2022: A Complete Overview

In New York, consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) like iprospectcheck and employers are required to follow the state, local, and federal laws governing employment background checks, including the information that can be gathered and used to make hiring decisions.

If you do not comply with the employment background check laws, your company could be at risk of legal liability and other penalties.

Below, some of the primary laws that cover pre-employment background checks in New York are detailed for employers that rely on third-party CRAs for information about applicants during the hiring process.

Federal Laws on Employment Background Checks

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are the two main federal laws New York employers should understand when conducting pre-employment background checks.

FCRA

The FCRA is a comprehensive federal law that was first enacted in 1970. Its purpose is to protect consumer privacy in the information gathered and used by CRAs, including information of applicants for employment during the hiring process. Under the FCRA, CRAs are restricted in the types of information CRAs can access and disclose, and employers are restricted in the types of information they can use to make hiring decisions.

Under the FCRA, there is a seven-year lookback period that prohibits CRAs from disclosing arrest information that is seven or more years old when the arrests did not lead to convictions. CRAs are also not allowed to disclose information about civil lawsuits, judgment liens, collection accounts, or bankruptcies that are at least seven years old.

These restrictions do not apply to positions paying salaries of at least $75,000. Records of criminal convictions can be gathered and disclosed no matter their age or the salaries offered for the open positions.

Employers that conduct pre-employment background checks must inform their candidates that they intend to complete New York background checks in writing. They must also secure the written consent of candidates before completing a background check for employment in New York.

If negative background information about a candidate is revealed on an employment background check report, employers are required to adhere to the FCRA’s two-step adverse action procedure before they make final hiring decisions.

Title VII

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) promulgates and enforces regulations under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This is a landmark law that prohibits discrimination based on the protected statuses of applicants and employees in the workplace.

Title VII applies to criminal history information that might be revealed in New York employment background checks. According to guidance from the EEOC, employers should individually assess criminal history information in relation to the specific jobs for which the applicants are being considered before deciding not to hire them based on this information.

New York State Laws on Employment Background Checks

New York employers and CRAs must comply with multiple state laws covering pre-employment background checks.

Changes to New York City’s Fair Chance Act

In July 2021, New York City amended its Fair Chance Act to expand its protection for applicants and employees with certain types of criminal records. Under this law, employers must now wait until after a conditional offer of employment has been extended before conducting criminal background checks.

Employers are expected to separate their pre-employment background checks into two reports. The first check, which can be conducted before a conditional offer of employment, can include non-criminal background information such as an applicant’s employment history, education, and reference checks.

The second report will only include the applicants’ criminal history information. If convictions are revealed, employers must complete the Fair Chance process before making a final decision not to hire the applicants.

Arrests not Resulting in Convictions

Under NY Gen Bus L § 380-J (2019), CRAs may not report information about arrests not resulting in convictions unless the cases are pending. This statute also prohibits the reporting of drug or alcohol addiction records that are seven or more years old, satisfied judgments that are five or more years old, confinement in mental institutions seven or more years old, or retail thefts without uncoerced confessions and signed statements.

This statute also prohibits reporting of criminal convictions antedating the report by seven or more years. However, the time restriction does not apply to positions paying at least $25,000.

Article 23A of the New York Corrections Law includes several statutes governing how employers must treat applicants who have one or more prior criminal convictions.

Discrimination Against Criminal Convictions

Under NY Corr L § 752 (2019), employers may not discriminate against applicants with one or more criminal convictions unless the convictions directly relate to the position, or hiring the applicant would place others at an unreasonable risk of harm.

Employers must consider several factors under NY Corr L § 753 (2019 when an applicant has one or more criminal convictions, including the following:

  • The public policy to encourage employment of people with criminal convictions
  • The position’s specific duties and responsibilities
  • Whether the conviction relates to the applicant’s fitness to perform any one of the duties or responsibilities
  • How much time has elapsed since the conviction
  • The person’s age when the offense was committed
  • The seriousness of the offense
  • Any mitigating information produced by the applicant showing good conduct and rehabilitation

 

The analysis must be made on a case-by-case basis, and employers must consider all of the factors individually when determining whether or not to hire the applicant.

If an applicant who has a criminal record is denied employment, the applicant must be given 30 days to ask for a reason for the adverse decision under NY Corr L § 754 (2019).

All employers in New York are prohibited from asking about salary history information from job applicants. This law went into effect on Jan. 6, 2020.

New York Local and Municipal Laws and Regulations

Multiple counties and municipalities in New York also have laws that cover pre-employment background checks.

In New York City, the city council expanded the scope of the Fair Chance Act. Under N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107(10)-(11), private and public employers may not discriminate against applicants with criminal convictions for employment purposes without conducting the individual assessment required by Art. 23A of the New York Corrections Law.

Employers also are prohibited from asking applicants about arrests that did not lead to convictions, and they cannot ask about criminal history information on applications. New York City’s ban-the-box law applies to employers with four or more employees.

In Buffalo, employers must comply with the city’s ban-the-box ordinance found in Buffalo City Code § 154-25. Under this law, employers may not ask about criminal convictions on applications or before the initial interview for a position.

Rochester has a similar ban-the-box law found in Roch. Mun. Code §§ 63-12 – 63-15. Under this ordinance, employers may not ask about criminal history information on applications or until after the first interview.

Employers in New York City may not perform credit checks on prospective employees or employees unless they are for positions that require credit checks under federal or state laws under the NYC Human Rights Law.

What Comes Up on a New York State Background Check?

When you conduct a pre-employment background check in New York, the information you might see will depend on what you request. When you partner with iprospectcheck, you can customize your background check requests to only receive the specific types of information you require.

While the other types of requested information might vary, most New York employers ask for criminal history reports, verification of employment, and verification of education. Below is a brief description of what you might see for these types of reports.

Criminal History Reports

If a job candidate has a criminal conviction, his or her criminal history report will contain the following information:

  • Case number
  • Date of arrest
  • Charge(s)
  • Disposition
  • Date of disposition
  • Severity of the offense (misdemeanor or felony)
  • Sentence information

 

Information about sealed records is not reportable.

Employment Verification

When you ask for the employment information of an applicant to be verified, you will be able to see each former employer for which the applicant worked, the titles that he or she held, and his or her dates of employment at each company.

Employment verification allows you to verify that your applicants have the requisite experience for their positions. It also helps you to confirm that your applicants are trustworthy and loyal.

Education Verification

Verifying a candidate’s educational information lets you verify all of the educational institutions he or she attended, the attendance dates, and any diplomas, certificates, or degrees awarded.

Education verification allows employers to confirm that their applicants have honestly reported their educational qualifications and helps to protect the companies from potential negligent hiring lawsuits.

How Far Back Does a Background Check go in New York?

The FCRA’s seven-year lookback period limits how long adverse information can be reported and used for hiring decisions for applicants in New York. Arrests that are older than seven years not resulting in convictions will not be reported.

Liens, civil judgments, collection records, and bankruptcies will also not be reported when they are seven or more years old on pre-employment background check reports.

However, the FCRA’s restrictions are not applicable to positions offering salaries of at least $75,000. The reporting of criminal conviction records is also not restricted by the seven-year lookback period.

Background report information about a candidate’s education, employment, and credentials is not restricted by the FCRA. These types of information can be reported and used regardless of age.

How do I Get a New York State Background Check?

In New York, individuals can request copies of their own New York state police records from the Division of Criminal Justice Services. However, this is a personal records review and is not used for employment background checks.

Employers that want to complete a New York criminal records search must instead send requests through the New York Office of Court Administration. The use of this system is based on an exact date-of-birth and name match. This type of report will only show pending cases and convictions within the state of New York.

Getting information from the court system will not reveal other important data for employment background checks, including employment or educational records. It also will not show convictions from other states and jurisdictions, and data from villages and towns will be limited.

If you search online, you might discover providers that advertise free background checks in New York. However, you should steer clear of these websites and providers.

Information provided by these types of providers is often inaccurate, outdated, and not FCRA-compliant. If you rely on this type of information to make hiring decisions, your business could be at risk of fines and legal liability.

Free public records in New York may also provide you with information you are prohibited from using for hiring purposes.

Instead of relying on one of these methods, you should work with a qualified and FCRA-compliant pre-employment background check company like iprospectcheck. Our employment background checks are accurate, comprehensive, and fully comply with all federal, state, and local laws.

How Much Does a Background Check Cost in New York?

If you send a request through the New York Office of Court Administration, you will have to pay a fee of $95 per report. However, the information you might receive will only include New York state criminal history information and will not include out-of-state conviction records or other important information you need for employment purposes.

If you try to gather all of the relevant background check information on your own, you will have to send multiple requests to different institutions, agencies, and employers. This could be a time-consuming process that could cost substantial amounts of money.

Relying on websites that promise free pre-employment background check reports in New York could expose you to substantial losses through lawsuits and penalties.

The best method for gathering information is to work with a reputable, FCRA-compliant pre-employment background check company like iprospectcheck.

When you partner with us, you can choose the types of specific information you need for your positions by tailoring your requests.

We offer packages at different price levels, many other types of reports, and a menu of clinical services, including pre-employment drug tests.

If you plan to order pre-employment background checks at volume, you can also benefit from significant discounts. Contact iprospectcheck today to learn more and obtain a free, no-obligation quote.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Background Check Completed in New York?

The methods you choose for conducting pre-employment background checks will impact how long it will take for you to receive the information.

If you submit a request through the Office of Court Administration’s direct access site, the state normally returns reports by the next business day. However, this information will only provide New York state criminal records, and information from towns and villages will be limited. It will not include information about out-of-state convictions or data about employment or education.

If you try to collect information by sending requests to numerous agencies, institutions, and employers, it can take weeks for you to receive all of the information you need.

When you work with iprospectcheck, you can receive comprehensive information that fully complies with the laws in a fast turnaround time. We can provide information in a few hours up to a couple of days.

iprospectcheck: Your Trusted Partner for Fast, Accurate, Compliant New York Background Checks

New York employers will need to access all relevant records to conduct comprehensive, accurate, and FCRA-compliant employment background checks. Most employers simply do not have the time or access needed to complete this type of work.

When you work with iprospectcheck, you can benefit from our comprehensive access and extensive resources to gather the information you need to make fast, sound hiring decisions.

All of our staff complete in-depth training and know the correct methods for gathering and analyzing critical information for job applicants. When you work with us, you can be confident that the information you receive complies with the FCRA and other laws, is comprehensive, and accurate.

At iprospectcheck, we make customer service a priority. We are USA-based and never offshore our services to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of your sensitive data. We are available to answer any questions that might arise and always respond promptly to inquiries.

Contact iprospectcheck today to learn more about how we can help to streamline your hiring process through scheduling a no-obligation, free consultation.

DISCLAIMER: The resources provided here are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Consult your counsel if you have legal questions related to your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.

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About the Author
Matthew J. Rodgers

Matthew J. Rodgers

Matthew J. Rodgers is a highly accomplished business executive with over 30 years of experience providing strategic vision and leadership to companies ranging from the fortune 500 to iprospectcheck, a company which he co-founded over a decade ago. Matthew is a valued consultant who is dedicated to helping companies create and implement efficient, cost effective and compliant employment screening programs. Matt has been a member of the Professional Background Screeners Association since 2009 . When not focused on iprospectcheck, he can be found spending time with his family, fly fishing, or occasionally running the wild rivers of the American west. A lifetime member of American Whitewater, Matt is passionate about protecting and restoring America’s whitewater rivers.