NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A259
SPONSOR: Rozic (MS)
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the executive law, in relation to
expanding the protections to housing, higher education, and volunteer
PURPOSE: To amend the Executive Law § 296(16) to expand its
protections to housing, higher education and volunteer activity.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section I of the bill:
* Expands Executive Law § 296(16) to provide that in the domains of
housing, higher education, and volunteer work, decision-makers cannot
ask about or consider sealed arrests and convictions.
* Changes the structure of Executive Law § 296(16) from one long para-
graph that is difficult to read to three paragraphs that track the
provision's three main points, a non-substantive yet important change
designed to enhance the provision's utilization and effectiveness.
* Specifies that decision-makers in the domains of employment, housing,
higher education, and volunteer work are explicitly prohibited from
asking applicants about Juvenile Delinquent dispositions, a protection
that is not currently included in the Family Court Act's confidentiality
* Explicitly authorizes applicants to respond negatively to unlawful
inquiries, a change that is necessary to address the reality that in all
domains - including employment - decision-makers continues to use appli-
cations that ask applicants to disclose sealed arrests and convictions.
* Expands the current protection against the disclosure and use of
sealed arrests and convictions in credit applications to also include
* Prohibits decision-makers from considering sealable (not just sealed)
violation convictions, a change that parallels how the provision
currently treats sealable dispositions favorable to the accused.
Section II sets forth the effective date.
JUSTIFICATION: Executive Law § 296(16) has long protected employment
applicants and employees from discrimination based on sealed arrests or
convictions. Such protection recognizes the importance of employment in
promoting a person's successful reintegration into society as a law
abiding citizen after contacts with the criminal justice system. In this
sense, Executive Law § 296(16) is consistent with New York's goal of
promoting the "successful and productive reentry and reintegration into
society" of people who have been arrested. See Penal Law § 1.05 (6).
Like employment, access to stable housing, higher education, and volun-
teer opportunities can be critical to a person's successful reinte-
gration into the community after an arrest. Yet decision-makers in all
of these domains are increasingly using criminal background checks which
all too often reveal sealed arrests and convictions. While Executive
Law § 296(16) provides that employers cannot rely upon sealed informa-
tion in making employment decisions, no similar protection exist in
contexts of housing, higher education, and volunteer work.
There are also instances in which decision-makers ask questions that
intentionally or inadvertently require applicants to reveal sealed
arrests or convictions. A good illustration of this is the application
for admission to Saint John Fisher College in Rochester, New York, which
asks applicants if they have ever "been charged with a crime (felony or
misdemeanor) in any state or country, the disposition of which was other
than an acquittal or dismissal." This question seemingly requires the
disclosure of a non-criminal convictions that have been sealed under the
Criminal Procedure Law (CPL) § 160.55, criminal arrests that have
resulted in a Youthful Offender adjudication under CPL § 720.35, or a
conviction which has been conditionally sealed under CPL § 160.58.
Indeed, since housing, higher education, and volunteer work are not
currently included in Executive Law § 296(16), some decision-makers in
these contexts believe that they can and should ask applicants about all
arrests and convictions, regardless of whether they have been sealed.
In Short, while Executive Law § 296(16) protects people with sealed
arrests and convictions from discrimination in the context of employ-
ment, no similar protection exists in the contexts of housing, higher
education, and volunteer opportunities, thereby leaving people suscepti-
ble to being discriminated against in important aspects of their lives.
The proposed amendment to Executive Law § 296(16) is designed to close
this gap. In addition, the proposed amendments are designed to make the
very important Executive Law protections in this subdivision more "user-
friendly" and accessible to those who it governs and protects.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2014: A07740 (Rozic) - Correction 2013: A07740
(Rozic) - Governmental Operations
FISCAL IMPACT ON THE STATE: None.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect ninety days after it shall
have become law.
STATE OF NEW YORK
2015-2016 Regular Sessions
January 7, 2015
Introduced by M. of A. ROZIC, ROBERTS, RIVERA, SCARBOROUGH -- Multi-
Sponsored by -- M. of A. ARROYO, BRENNAN, GOTTFRIED, PERRY -- read
once and referred to the Committee on Correction
AN ACT to amend the executive law, in relation to expanding the
protections to housing, higher education, and volunteer activity
The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-bly, do enact as follows:
1 Section 1. Subdivision 16 of section 296 of the executive law, as
2 separately amended by section 3 of part N and section 14 of part AAA of
3 chapter 56 of the laws of 2009, is amended to read as follows:
4 16. (a) It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice, unless
5 specifically required or permitted by statute, for any person, agency,
6 bureau, corporation or association, including the state and any poli-
7 tical subdivision thereof, or any entity set forth in paragraph (a) of
8 subdivision five of this section, or any institution of higher education
9 as defined in section 50.1 of title 8 of the compilation of codes, rules
10 and regulations of New York;
11 (i) to make any inquiry about, whether in any form of application or
12 otherwise, or to act upon adversely to the individual involved, any
13 arrest or criminal accusation of such individual not then pending
14 against that individual which was followed by a termination of that
15 criminal action or proceeding in favor of such individual, as defined in
16 subdivision two of section 160.50 of the criminal procedure law and
17 section 375.1 of the family court act, or by a youthful offender adjudi-
18 cation, as defined in subdivision one of section 720.35 of the criminal
19 procedure law, or by a juvenile delinquency adjudication as defined in
20 subdivision one of section 380.1 of the family court act, or by a
21 conviction for a violation sealed or sealable pursuant to section 160.55
22 of the criminal procedure law, or by a conviction which is sealed pursu-
23 ant to section 160.58 of the criminal procedure law[,];
EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
 is old law to be omitted.
A. 259 2
1 (ii) in connection with the following matters: the licensing[,] or
2 employment [or] of such individual; the selling, renting, or leasing of
3 housing to such individual, or his or her tenancy or occupancy; the
4 admission of such individual to any college, university, or other insti-
5 tution of higher education; the consideration of such individual for a
6 volunteer position, apprenticeship, internship or externship whether
7 paid or unpaid; and the providing of credit, a mortgage or insurance to
8 such individual; [provided]
9 (b) Provided, further, that in connection with any of the matters
10 listed in subparagraph (ii) of paragraph (a) of this subdivision that no
11 person shall be required to divulge information pertaining to any arrest
12 or criminal accusation of such individual not then pending against that
13 individual which was followed by a termination of that criminal action
14 or proceeding in favor of such individual, as defined in subdivision two
15 of section 160.50 of the criminal procedure law and section 375.1 of the
16 family court act, or by a youthful offender adjudication, as defined in
17 subdivision one of section 720.35 of the criminal procedure law, or by a
18 juvenile delinquency adjudication as defined in subdivision one of
19 section 380.1 of the family court act, or by a conviction for a
20 violation sealed or sealable pursuant to section 160.55 of the criminal
21 procedure law, or by a conviction which is sealed pursuant to section
22 160.58 of the criminal procedure law. In the event that an entity listed
23 in paragraph (a) of this subdivision makes a prohibited inquiry, the
24 affected person shall be permitted to respond in the negative.
25 (c) The provisions of this subdivision shall not apply to the licens-
26 ing activities of governmental bodies in relation to the regulation of
27 guns, firearms and other deadly weapons or in relation to an application
28 for employment as a police officer or peace officer as those terms are
29 defined in subdivisions thirty-three and thirty-four of section 1.20 of
30 the criminal procedure law; provided further that the provisions of this
31 subdivision shall not apply to an application for employment or member-
32 ship in any law enforcement agency with respect to any arrest or crimi-
33 nal accusation which was followed by a youthful offender adjudication,
34 as defined in subdivision one of section 720.35 of the criminal proce-
35 dure law, or by a conviction for a violation sealed pursuant to section
36 160.55 of the criminal procedure law, or by a conviction which is sealed
37 pursuant to section 160.58 of the criminal procedure law.
38 § 2. This act shall take effect on the ninetieth day after it shall
39 have become a law.