New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman recently announced settlements against two major retailers (Big Lots Stores and Marshalls) for violations of Buffalo’s “Ban the Box” ordinance at local stores. Click here to read the announcement. In addition, the stores agreed to pay fines of $100,000 (Big Lots) and $95,000 (Marshalls).
State and local Ban the Box laws generally prohibit an employer from inquiring on a job application about a candidate’s criminal history. That inquiry must generally wait until after a conditional offer of employment. Buffalo is one of three major cities in New York with such a law on the books (New York City and Rochester are the other two). Note that each Ban the Box law should be read individually as although there are similarities, there are also nuances to each.
Employers in Buffalo — the Ban the Box law applies to public and private employers with 15+ employees. It states that you cannot inquire on a job application or prior to an initial interview about criminal history. In addition, because Buffalo is in the state of New York, Article 23-A of the New York Correction Law also applies, specifically when considering an applicant’s prior criminal convictions in determining suitability for employment. See Article V: Fair Employment Screening to learn more about this potentially unlawful discriminatory practice in Buffalo.