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How does New York City's Fair Chance Act help drug offenders?

A drug conviction comes with a long list of consequences in all areas of your life. One that may have the most significant impact on you is challenges in employment. For many years, convicted criminals have faced obstacles in entering or returning to the workforce, making it difficult for them to turn their lives around, shares the New York Times.

However, recent legislative changes have increased the chances of you being able to find work by leveling the playing field in the initial stages of hiring. This new and comprehensive law for New York City is the Fair Chance Act. Its purpose is to limit the use of background checks to prevent criminal records from costing offenders potential jobs. It first went into effect in 2015, with updates published in 2017. 

Requirements for employers

The law, also known as "Ban the Box," prohibits employers from asking about criminal history on applications or in interviews. In fact, they cannot even mention anything about criminal records or background checks in advertisements for the position. Basic internet searches are not acceptable either. They can only request and receive this information once they make a conditional offer to a candidate, but even then, disqualification from the job must follow certain rules as well.

What this means for you

These guidelines help applicants with a criminal past be more competitive in the job market and make it further in the hiring process. Employers will make judgments based on skills and experience rather than previous life choices. What this process means for you is that you may face fewer hurdles in obtaining employment so you can rebuild your life.

However, a drug conviction may still keep you from certain occupations, so it is best not to rely on the Fair Chance Act for securing your future. Averting a conviction through qualified legal representation is the best way to avoid problems with employment.

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