New York Attorney General Fines Two Retailers for Buffalo Ban the Box Ordinance Violations

Posted: February 08, 2016

Ordinance Violations

On January 20, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced settlements with two national retailers for violations of the Buffalo, NY ban the box ordinance. One retailer is subject to a $100,000 penalty, while the other is subject to a $95,000 penalty. Adopted in May 2013, the Buffalo Ordinance prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from making any inquiry into criminal history information during the application process or before the first interview. Under the law, the application process begins when the applicant inquires into the potential position and ends when an employer accepts an employment application. If no interview is conducted, the employer is required to inform the applicant whether or not a criminal background check will be conducted before employment begins. The law has been in effect since January 2014. As detailed in the press release, the two retailers were found to have distributed employment applications that included a question regarding criminal history. In addition to the monetary penalties, both companies also agreed to modify their applications to ensure compliance with the local ordinance. Further, both companies will also undertake “affirmative efforts to recruit applicants with criminal histories.” In addition to Buffalo, Rochester and New York City also have ban the box laws in effect. Employers hiring in any of those cities should review these laws as it is clear that the state of New York takes ban the box compliance rather seriously.