Wednesday, May 2, 2012

NEW YORK UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE - FALSE JOB APPLICATION

Disclosure of past criminal issues is the first consideration in the discussion of a false job application and unemployment insurance benefits. The DOL addresses this in a Special Bulletin:

"Special Bulletin A-710-50 (Revised)

NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Unemployment Insurance Division
Adjudication Services Office
September 16, 1988
Interpretation Service-Benefit Claims
SPECIAL BULLETIN

Discharge for Arrest or Conviction

Attached is a revised page one for Special Bulletin A-710-50 dated June 28, 1977. This page should be substituted for the current page one, which should be discarded.

This revision states more accurately the exceptions to the provision that makes it an unlawful discriminatory practice to question a prospective employee about or discharge a current employee because of an arrest or criminal accusation.

The only exceptions are situations where such questions are required or permitted by another statute. Employers affected by this exception include stock brokerage firms and those such as law enforcement, guard or detective agencies when required to provide information concerning prospective or current employees pursuant to the licensing activities of governmental bodies in relation to the regulation of guns, firearms and other deadly weapons. This exception would not apply to employees such as unarmed personnel employed by these agencies.

DISCHARGE FOR ARREST OR CONVICTION

THE HUMAN RIGHTS LAW

Article 15 of the New York State Executive Law, known as "The Human Rights Law", was recently amended by adding two new subdivisions (Sections 296.14 and 296.15), making it unlawful generally to discriminate against a person because he was arrested or convicted of a crime.

This Special Bulletin discusses the effect of the new provisions in cases where a claimant has been discharged because of an arrest or conviction, or because he concealed either or both from his employer.

Cases which cannot be readily resolved may be submitted through channels to the Interpretation Section of the Adjudication Services Office for an opinion.

The new provisions

Arrest

The new provisions state that, except where required or permitted by other statutes, it is an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer to:

Inquire on an employment application or otherwise, whether an individual has ever been arrested or accused of a crime, or

Discharge an employee because of an arrest or accusation, when such arrest or accusation terminated in favor of the accused.

(Subject of the revision): Under certain circumstances an employer may ask questions of an employee or prospective employee about prior arrests or criminal accusations. Evidence of prior arrests and/or criminal accusations could result in an employee's discharge. This would apply to such employers as:

A stock brokerage firm
or
A law enforcement agency, guard or detective agency, when required to provide information relevant to the licensing activities of governmental bodies in the regulation of guns, firearms or other deadly weapons.

Conviction

Under the new provisions, it is not unlawful for an employer to inquire whether an individual has-ever been convicted of a crime. However, it is unlawful to discharge an employee for that reason, unless either-of the following can be shown:

There is a direct relationship between the offense and the employment; that is, the nature of the criminal conduct for which the employee was convicted has a direct bearing on his fitness or ability to perform any of the duties or responsibilities of the job, or

Continuing the employment would involve an unreasonable risk to property or to the safety or welfare of any person or the general public.

The law also provides that in making & determination regarding the above, an employer must also consider the public policy of the state to encourage employment of ex-offenders, how long ago the offense occurred, the person's age at the time, the seriousness of the offense, and evidence produced by the person in regard to his rehabilitation and good conduct.

In addition, any person, who has been convicted of a crime and who has been discharged from his employment, must be furnished by the employer, if requested, a written statement setting forth the reasons for discharge.

Criminal charges pending

The new provisions are silent on the question of pending criminal charges, but the State Division of Human Rights has issued an interpretation indicating that it is not unlawful for an employer to inquire if such charges exist or to discharge an employee if they do, and he is not required to justify the discharge as in the case of convictions, outlined in IB above.

Employers covered by the new provisions

The new provision prohibiting discrimination against an individual who has been arrested or accused but cleared, applies to the state and city governments and subdivisions, and private employers.

The new provision prohibiting discrimination against a person who has been convicted of a crime (an "ex-offender") applies to the above public employers, and private employers of 10 or more persons.

Neither of the new provisions, nor the State Human Rights Law of which they are a part, apply to federal employment.

However, for the purpose of adjudicating claims for unemployment insurance, the principles set forth in this Special Bulletin should be applied to separations from all employers, public (including federal) or private, and regardless of the number of their employees.

Application of the new provisions

False statements to employer

Since it is generally unlawful to inquire whether a person has ever been arrested or accused of a crime, a false reply to such question generally is not misconduct under the unemployment insurance law. (Some exceptions where an employer may make such inquiry are given under IA).

Since it is lawful to inquire whether a person has ever been convicted of a crime or has a criminal charge pending against him, a false reply to either question is misconduct under the unemployment insurance law, and a claimant who is discharged solely because of such false answer may be subject to the statutory disqualification.

Arrest which terminated in favor of accused

Since it is generally unlawful to discharge an employee because of an arrest or accusation, when such arrest or accusation terminated in favor of the accused, a discharge under these circumstances is generally not disqualifying.

Conviction

A discharge because of a criminal conviction occurring either before or after commencement of the employment, is unlawful and therefore not disqualifying, unless either of the exceptions listed under 18 above can be shown to exist.

However, even if either exception is shown by the employer to exist, and the discharge is lawful, a disqualification for misconduct cannot be imposed unless the acts for which claimant was discharged were in connection with his employment within the meaning of the unemployment insurance law. Acts which occurred prior to commencement of the employment generally would not meet this test. On the other hand, behavior off the job may in some instances be misconduct in connection with employment: see Interpretation Service Index 1130.

Criminal charges pending

Since it is not unlawful to discharge an employee because of a criminal charge pending against him, a discharge for such reason may, be disqualifying if the acts charged were in connection with employment, within the meaning of the unemployment insurance law. As noted in the preceding paragraph, acts which occurred prior to commencement of the employment generally would not meet this test. On the other hand, behavior off the job may in some instances be misconduct in connection with employment.

Misconduct in connection with employment

The new provisions impose restrictions on the right of an employer to inquire about, or discharge an employee for, an arrest or conviction record. Except for this, they do not interfere with his right to discharge any employee who commits an act, dishonest or otherwise, in the course of his employment, which is prejudicial to the employer's interests. In such case the disqualification for misconduct under Section 593.3 of the unemployment insurance law should be imposed; and if the act also constitutes a felony, or results in criminal proceedings following an indictment, benefits should be withheld in accordance with Section 593.4, the "criminal acts" provision. (See Interpretation Service, Index 113O, 1150, and 1195; and Manual of Procedure III 6226)

The rule at Index 1150A-3 (A-750-1300) should be marked obsolete.

Illustrations

An armed guard was discharged because of a false reply to a question on his employment application as to whether he had ever been arrested. It was discovered that he had once been arrested for felonious assault but the charges were dismissed. Guard agencies are permitted by law to ask such question. Misconduct disqualification applies.

Same facts as in 1 above except that claimant was an assembler in an auto parts factory. The employer is not permitted by law to ask such question. No disqualification.

A tester in an electronics plant falsified his employment application by showing incorrect dates in his work history in order to omit a period of employment which ended in discharge for theft. He had never been arrested or prosecuted. He was discharged because of the omission. Misconduct disqualification applies.

A brokerage clerk was discharged because it was discovered he had once been convicted of possession of marijuana. Although he had denied any prior arrests or convictions on his employment application, he was not discharged for such denial. Employer was unable to show justification for the discharge as described under IB above. No disqualification.

A presser in a sportswear factory was discharged because of a pending criminal charge of rape, not connected with his employment. Although the discharge was not unlawful, no disqualification applies.

A bookkeeper for a wholesale bakery was discharged when it was discovered she had been convicted of an embezzlement charge filed by a former employer. No employment application had been required by the bakery, but it was able to show justification for the discharge as described under IB above. No disqualification applies, since there was no misconduct in connection with claimant's employment at the bakery .

A supermarket cashier was discharged for attempting to leave the premises with a can of coffee for which she had not paid. No charges were pressed by the employer. Disqualification for misconduct applies.

(The text of Sections 296.14 and 296.15 of Article 15 of the New York State Executive Law, and pertinent provisions of Article 23A of the New York State Correction Law, are attached.)

New York State Executive Law, Article 15

Section 296.14

It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice, unless specifically required or permitted by statute, for any person, agency, bureau, corporation or association, including the state and any political subdivision thereof, to make any inquiry about, whether in any form of application or otherwise, or to act upon adversely to the individual involved, any arrest or criminal accusation of such individual not then pending against that individual which was followed by a termination of that criminal action or proceeding in favor of such individual, as defined in subdivision two of section 160.50 of the criminal procedure law, in connection with the licensing, employment or providing of credit or insurance to such individual; provided, however, that the provisions hereof shall not apply to the licensing activities of governmental bodies in relation to the regulation of guns, firearms and other deadly weapons.

Section 296.15

It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for any person, agency, bureau, corporation or association, including the state and any political subdivision thereof, to deny any license or employment to any individual by reason of his having been convicted of one or more criminal offenses, or by reason of a finding of a Lack of "good moral character" which is based upon his having been convicted of one or more criminal offenses, when such denial is in violation of the provisions of article twenty-three-a of the correction law.

New York State Correction Law, Article 23A

Section 752

Unfair discrimination against persons previously convicted of one or more criminal offenses prohibited

No application for any license or employment, to which the provisions of this article are applicable, shall be denied by reason of the applicant's having been previously convicted of one or more criminal offenses, or by reason of a finding of lack of "good moral character" when such finding is based upon the fact that the applicant has previously been convicted of one or more criminal offenses, unless:

there is a direct relationship between one or more of the previous criminal offenses and the specific license or employment sought; or

the issuance of the license or the granting of the employment would involve an unreasonable risk to property or to the safety or welfare of specific individuals or the general public.

Section 753

Factors to be considered concerning a previous criminal conviction; presumption

1. In making a determination pursuant to section seven hundred fifty-two of this chapter, the public agency or private employer shall consider the following factors:

The public policy of this state, as expressed in this act, to encourage the licensure and employment of persons previously convicted of one or more criminal offenses.

The specific duties and responsibilities necessarily related to the license or employment sought.

The bearing, if any, the criminal offense or offenses for which the person was previously convicted will have on his fitness or ability to perform one or more such duties or responsibilities.

The time which has elapsed since the occurrence of the criminal offense or offenses.

The age of the person at the time of occurrence of the criminal offense or offenses.

The seriousness of the offense or offenses.

Any information produced by the person, or produced on his behalf, in regard to his rehabilitation and good conduct.

The legitimate interest of the public agency or private employer in protecting property, and the safety and welfare of specific individuals or the general public.

2. In making a determination pursuant to section seven hundred fifty-two of this chapter, the public agency or private employer shall also give consideration to a certificate of relief from disabilities or a certificate of good conduct issued to the applicant, which certificate shall create a presumption of rehabilitation in regard to the offense or offenses specified therein.

Section 754

Written statement upon denial of license or employment

At the request of any person previously convicted of one or more criminal offenses who has been denied a license or employment, a public agency or private employer shall provide, within thirty days of a request, a written statement setting forth the reasons for such denial.



------------------------------------------------------------------------------"

No comments:

Post a Comment