Sort of. We don’t pay 3rd parties to check court records. To really be effective with that you’d have to check every courthouse in the country and that would be cost-prohibitive. If you wanted to facilitate it we could do that but we would pass the cost through to you. Instead, we do what we call “straightening the timeline.” Through a series of interviews (some on the phone, and some in person) we ask all applicants to account for their time. I also look for people to “open up”. If I can’t have an open dialogue with a guy, and I get the feeling that there is something else out there that he might be keeping from me, then I walk away—it’s just not worth it to me. We also do reference checks and basic internet searches. Usually, by the time we are done you have far more information than you will ever have on even your most trusted current employees. We don’t hold anything back. We work for you. So whatever we learn we disclose to you. That said. NOBODY is perfect, and my hope is that we can all be adult enough to handle whatever we learn with tact and discretion.
Something you should know (if you don’t already) is that it is illegal to have a policy that says, “No felons”. Correction Law §753 provides eight factors to assist employers in determining whether a “direct relationship” exists between a particular applicant’s prior criminal record and the employment position sought:
- the public policy of New York to encourage the employment of persons previously convicted of one or more criminal offenses;
- the specific duties of the job;
- the bearing, if any, the criminal offense or offenses will have on the applicant’s fitness to perform such duties;
- the time elapsed since the conviction;
- the age of the job applicant at the time of the offense;
- the seriousness of the offense or offenses;
- any information in regard to the applicant’s rehabilitation and good conduct; and
- the safety and welfare of specific individuals or the general public.
Article 23-A also provides a second exception to the general rule prohibiting the use of an ex-offender’s criminal record to deny employment. Employers may reject an applicant if his or her employment would create an “unreasonable risk” to persons or property. Unlike the “direct relation” exception, what constitutes an “unreasonable risk” is not defined, but instead must be determined on a case-by-case basis. However, some courts have noted that the eight factors used in determining a direct relation are also useful in finding an “unreasonable risk.”