That Old Robbery

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Q: Thirteen years ago, when I was 17 years old, I was convicted of first degree robbery.  After serving over three years in prison, I was granted parole.  Since then, I have become a productive and law-abiding member of society.

Five years ago, I earned a bachelor’s degree from the city university: while working and attending classes, I also volunteered with an organization that provides assistance to inmates in developing skills that will help them reintegrate into society upon being released.  Upon earning my college degree, I started a family and worked in positions of responsibility at two law firms.

Earlier this year, desiring employment that would allow more time with my family, I left my law-firm position.  Despite disclosing my conviction, I got a part-time position at a not-for-profit private corporation that provides preschool special-education services, through a contract with the government.  My responsibilities were clerical, not instruction.

After several months, the government got wind of my old conviction.  After a perfunctory interview, the government commanded my employer to let me go, saying that I posed “an unreasonable risk to the safety and welfare of the school community.”

A: Under the New York Correction Law, as a general matter, it is unlawful for an employer to deny an employment application by reason of your having been previously convicted of a criminal offense.  This rule was enacted to further your rehabilitation and your successful and productive reentry and reintegration into society.

Of course, there is an exception for ‘unreasonable risk’.  The employer must make a genuine subjective analysis of eight specific factors, relating to the nature of the employment and the prior misconduct.  Otherwise, the employer has failed to comply with the statute, and it has acted in an arbitrary manner.  Your lawyer can probably get you around the ‘contract’ aspect here.  From what you have told me, it sounds like you will prevail.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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