Wyandanch, NY – One of newly-elected Suffolk County Legislator Jason Richberg’s first official acts in office was to join Legislators Susan A. Berland, Samuel Gonzalez, and Kevin McCaffrey in co-sponsoring IR-1019, “A Local Law to ensure Fair Employment Screening in Suffolk County,” also known as “Ban the Box”.
“I am a proud supporter of ‘banning the box’ in Suffolk County,” said Legislator Richberg. “This will give many job applicants a fair shot by allowing them to explain their past crimes, and not have their application thrown out before even receiving an interview, boosting their chances of getting hired and reducing the likelihood of reoffending. There are many people out there who have made mistakes earlier in their lives, paid their debt to society, and deserve the opportunity to prove themselves and make a living. This legislation accomplishes just that.”
“Ban the Box” refers to the section on job applications that asks prospective employees about their past criminal history. Under the new Suffolk law passed with bi-partisan support, employers with 15 employees or more would not be able to inquire about prior convictions until later in the hiring process, either after an initial interview or after an application is filed if there is no interview. Ex-offenders then would have a chance to explain the circumstances of their convictions and how they have changed.
“Together with Legislators McCaffrey and Gonzalez, we successfully put forth a bipartisan effort to ‘Ban the Box’ from appearing on job applications,” said Legislator Berland, sponsor of the “Ban the Box” legislation. “This law addresses the concerns of the advocates who testified that applicants with criminal records should have the opportunity to get their foot in the door and make an initial impression on a prospective employer. This law also gives the applicant the ability to address their criminal history with a prospective employer earlier if they so choose. In a bipartisan fashion, we removed ‘the box’ to not only help the applicant get an interview but also protect the employer’s right to investigate the backgrounds of its applicants after an initial interview.”
“There are people who have made mistakes in their lives and they are finding it very difficult to get their lives back in order. I believe, access to gainful employment will improve the quality of life for people with criminal records and the communities in which they live, ultimately reducing recidivism and increasing public safety. I am proud to co-sponsor this bill with Legislator Susan A. Berland and Legislator Kevin McCaffrey,” said Legislator Gonzalez.
“I am proud to co-sponsor this bipartisan legislation which allows people a second chance in life,” said Legislator McCaffrey. “Everyone deserves an opportunity to put their best foot forward in a job interview without being automatically disqualified. This legislation strikes a fair balance of protecting employers and prospective employees.”
“New Hour has long advocated for fair hiring practices in Suffolk County and applauds this bi-partisan measure to ensure those with convictions are able to find and keep gainful employment,” said Serena Liguori, the executive director of New Hour for Women & Children, a Brentwood-based non-profit that focuses on support for children and mothers during and after incarceration. “Banning the box on job applications will ensure those returning citizens are able to support their families and are less likely to recidivate due to financial instability.”