On November 16, 2023, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law the Clean Slate Act, which allows certain criminal records to be sealed after a waiting period with no subsequent convictions. The Clean Slate Act amends the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) to make it an unlawful discriminatory practice for employers to inquire about or use sealed convictions against applicants or employees.

For individuals with eligible misdemeanor convictions who have completed their sentence (including probation and parole time), their records will be automatically sealed after three years. This period is extended to eight years for those with certain felony convictions, on the condition that the individual has not committed an additional crime in the intervening period. However, records of individuals convicted of sex crimes, murder, domestic terrorism, or other violent, non-drug Class A felonies will not be sealed.

It is important to note that the Clean Slate Act only allows for the sealing of records, not expungement. That means the records will not appear on background checks and can be viewed only under certain circumstances. For example, the sealed records of conviction will remain accessible for entities required by law to conduct a fingerprint background check and entities authorized by law to conduct a fingerprint background check because they work with children and other vulnerable populations.

The law will go into effect as of November 16, 2024.

Employers should review their practices and policies, specifically related to hiring, background checks, use of conviction records, and nondiscrimination policies, to ensure they comply with the Clean Slate Act. The Clean Slate Act does not change an employer’s obligations under New York’s Article 23-A prior to denying an employment opportunity based on conviction status.

If you have questions or concerns about the Clean Slate Act, or questions or concerns about your rights as hiring party, employee, or independent contractor, please contact Chaim Book at CBook@booklawllp.com, Sheryl Galler at SGaller@booklawllp.com, or Nadav Zamir at NZamir@booklawllp.com.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is for general knowledge purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. For specific guidance tailored to your situation, it is advisable to consult with a qualified employment law professional.