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State LawsNew York

New York Background Checks

A guide to New York background checks

Conducting pre-employment background checks allows employers to make informed hiring decisions about job candidates by gathering key information about their criminal history, driving record, education and work experience, and more. However, New York State strictly regulates employment screenings, and employers conducting background checks must comply with all applicable federal, state, and local laws. Keep reading to learn more about New York background check processes and compliance.

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What Is A New York State Background Check?

A New York state background check is a search of different public records and databases, providing information about a candidate’s history that goes beyond an application or resume. These screenings are commonly conducted for employment purposes or volunteer positions. Pre-employment background checks give the employer a comprehensive view of a candidate’s history and may include criminal records, driving records, and more.

The specific background screenings and information you can receive may depend on your organization, the position, and any applicable laws in your area. Certain industries may require additional checks, such as those regulated by the Department of Transportation (DOT). 

Background checks may also be regulated at the state or local level. 

For example, home care agencies, health homes, and subcontractors for these companies have specific New York background check requirements. Employers hiring for these organizations may be required to complete three clearance steps, which include:

  • Checking the Staff Exclusion List (SEL), a statewide registry of individuals who have committed serious or repeated acts of abuse or neglect.
  • Completing a Criminal History Record Check (CHRC) through the New York State Department of Health (DOH).
  • Conducting a Statewide Central Register (SCR) Database Check, a clearance search offered through the state’s Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) that identifies any reports of child abuse or maltreatment against a candidate.

Potential employees of group child programs are also required by the New York State Social Services Law and the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act (CCDBG) to submit to a comprehensive background check. This includes a state and national criminal records check, state and national sex offender registry search, and both SCR and SEL checks.

What Shows Up On A New York State Background Check?

The results of a New York state employment background check can vary depending on the type and number of screenings, and the scope of each search being performed. Here are common background screenings and what may show up:  

  • Criminal records checks show misdemeanor and felony convictions, as well as pending criminal cases. Results may also show a history of incarceration as an adult, arrests pending prosecution, active warrants, and infractions.
  • Driving record checks show license type and status, suspensions, revocations, and motor vehicle-related offenses, like DUIs.
  • Employment verification reports previous employers, positions held, and employment dates. 
  • Education verification reports schools attended, degrees earned, and graduation dates. 
  • Credit checks show a candidate’s credit history, which may include payment history, accounts in collections, and bankruptcies. This type of check is often used for jobs that require financial responsibility.
  • Drug testing indicates whether there is evidence of current or past use of certain illegal and prescription drugs. New York State law prohibits most employers from conducting pre-employment cannabis testing except in certain cases.

While there are some narrow exceptions, consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) aren’t allowed to report consumer medical data to employers in New York state either. 

Can information on a background check disqualify candidates from employment?

A New York background check may report information that can disqualify a candidate from employment, though employers should be careful to review their organization’s background check policy and comply with relevant laws when basing employment decisions on the results of a background screening. New York state laws limit how employers may use criminal background checks, consumer credit checks, and drug screenings in making employment decisions.

A candidate may also be disqualified from employment based on legal requirements for the position in question. For example, when applying for a role with the New York Justice Center, a felony conviction within the past ten years involving violence is considered “presumptively” disqualifying from further consideration for the role.
If an employer conducts a New York pre-employment screening through a consumer reporting agency (CRA), and chooses to disqualify a candidate based on the background check results, you should also follow the adverse action process as outlined in the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

How Far Back Do Employment Background Checks Go In NY?

When conducting a New York background check, seven years is the most common lookback period for employers, though lookback periods may depend on the type of background check.
Per New York state law, CRAs cannot report or keep in their files any conviction records, judgments, and paid tax liens more than seven years old, bankruptcies more than 14 years old, judgments that were paid within the last five years, or arrests that did not lead to a conviction (except for pending cases). These restrictions do not apply if the job in question has an annual salary of $25,000 or more.

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New York Background Check Laws

There are several statewide background screening laws that may impact how background checks are used in New York.

New York Human Rights Law § 296.16

Public and private employers are prohibited from asking candidates to disclose information about certain arrests, or deny them employment based on this information. Excluded arrests include any that:

  • Were dismissed pursuant to Criminal Procedure Law §160.50
  • Resulted in a Youthful Offender Adjudication pursuant to Criminal Procedure Law §720.35
  • Resulted in a conviction for a violation, which was sealed pursuant to Criminal Procedure Law §160.50 or CPL §160.55
  • Resulted in a conviction that was sealed pursuant to CPL §160.58

There are exceptions if inquiring into these records is specifically required or permitted by New York State or federal law.

New York General Business Code § 380-j

CRAs are prohibited from reporting or maintaining in the consumer’s file any:

  • Information about an arrest or criminal charge unless there has been a criminal conviction or charges are still pending
  • Information related to an individual’s race, religion, color, ancestry, or ethnic origin 
  • Bankruptcies more than 14 years old (note that federal law is stricter, limiting bankruptcy information to 10 years)
  • Drug or alcohol addictions, judgments, paid tax liens, confinement in a mental institution, or any other adverse information more than seven years old

An exception to these restrictions is made for jobs paying $25,000 or more annually.

New york Corrections Law § 752

Employers are prohibited from unfair discrimination against candidates previously convicted of one or more criminal offenses is prohibited. Exceptions include: 

  • If there is a direct relationship between one or more of the criminal offenses and the job (or licensure) being sought

If hiring the person would create an unreasonable risk to property or the safety or welfare of specific individuals or the general public

Article 23-A of New York Corrections Law § 753

Employers are required to conduct an individualized assessment before denying employment based on a candidate’s criminal record. The assessment must consider these eight factors:

  1. New York state’s public policy supports employing people with criminal histories
  2. The specific duties and responsibilities involved in the job
  3. Whether the criminal offense has any bearing on the candidate’s fitness for the job or ability to perform the required duties
  4. How much time has passed since the criminal offense
  5. How old the candidate was when the criminal offense occurred 
  6. The seriousness of the crime 
  7. Any evidence the candidate or others can provide as to the rehabilitation and good conduct shown since the offense
  8. The employer’s legitimate interest in protecting property and the safety and welfare of specific individuals and the general public

Employers should also consider any certificate of relief from disabilities or of good conduct that the individual provides. 

New York Corrections Law § 754

Anyone with one or more criminal convictions who is denied employment or licensure has the right to request a written statement explaining the reasons for denial. The employer or licensing agency must provide the written statement within 30 days of the request.

New York Labor Law § 194-a

Employers are forbidden from asking candidates or their former employers about their salary history—including current or former wages, salary, benefits, or other compensation—and using that information to determine the salary they will be offered in the position for which they’re applying. Employers are allowed to talk to job candidates about their expectations for salary, benefits, and other compensation. Salary history that a candidate voluntarily discloses to an employer without prompting can also be used in setting the salary. 

marihuana regulation and taxation act (MRTA)

In October 2021, MRTA revised Section 201-D of the New York Labor Law (NYLL), expanding restrictions on pre-employment cannabis testing statewide. (Testing was already restricted in New York City.) Now, job candidates in New York State can be only tested for cannabis if: 

  1. State or federal law requires cannabis testing for the position (such as a driving job regulated by the Department of Transportation or a job involving public safety); or 

Failing to conduct cannabis testing would otherwise violate federal law or cause the employer to lose federal funding or a federal contract. 

New York City Fair Chance Act

Employers are prohibited from conducting criminal background checks or asking questions about a candidate’s criminal history until a conditional offer of employment has been made. ​​While some employers may choose to wait to conduct all background checks, New York City Human Rights Local Law 4 advises against this practice. Instead, it recommends employers move forward with other background checks, such as employment and education verification, first. Screenings for criminal records and MVR reports (which may reveal criminal convictions such as DUI or DWI) should be performed only after making a conditional offer of employment. 

The law applies to any employer with four or more employees (including owners; paid or unpaid interns; and full-time, part-time, or temporary employees) if at least one of them works in New York City. Exceptions are made if state or federal law prohibits individuals with criminal records from holding certain jobs.

A trusted CRA, like GoodHire, can help New York City employers easily coordinate a two-step screening process to help you comply with all New York City background check laws.
There are other cities and counties in New York with local ban-the-box and fair hiring laws that may apply to you or your candidates, as listed in the County Resources below. 

NEW YORK CITY Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment Act

Most New York City employers are prohibited from requesting a candidate’s credit history or using that credit history information to make employment decisions. This New York background check law applies to any employer with four or more employees (including owners). The employees don’t have to all work in the same location or all work in New York City. Credit information can be used in hiring decisions only for police and peace officers, executive-level jobs that have power over finances, computer security, or trade secrets, or other roles required by state or federal law to run a background check.

driver’s privacy protection act (dppa)

This federal law regulates who is allowed to request another individual’s driving record and other DMV information. It also restricts how that released information can be obtained, shared, and used, as well as how it needs to be safeguarded to protect the individual’s right to privacy.

Fair Credit reporting act (FCRA)

All employers that partner with a CRA to conduct New York background checks must also comply with the federal FCRA. These requirements include disclosing your intent to conduct a background check, receiving written consent from the candidate before proceeding, and following the adverse action process if you decide not to hire a candidate based on the results of a background check.
When a city, county, or New York state employment background check law is stricter than the FCRA, employers may wish to comply with the strictest laws to avoid potential liability.

How To Get a New York Background Check

Employers have two options when conducting a New York background check on candidates– request each report directly from the relevant agency or use a qualified background check provider, like GoodHire, to streamline and facilitate the process.

For some types of New York state background checks, online platforms allow employers to request and pay for reports directly. For example, employers can request a candidate’s driving record through the state’s DMV Records Request Navigator or a criminal history records search (CHRS) online through the Office of Court Administration (OCA). 
However, this can be more time-consuming for employers than partnering with an experienced CRA. GoodHire streamlines the screening process with fast turnaround times and accurate results, while supporting compliance with federal, state, and local laws.

How Much Does A Background Check Cost In New York?

The cost of a New York background check depends on depending on who is conducting the screening and the types of reports ordered. For example, some employers may only request criminal records, while others will need to conduct a driving record check, drug testing, and more. 

How much is a background check in NY when you partner with a CRA? GoodHire, a Checkr company, offers customizable packages starting at $29.99 based on the number of background checks, the types of reports needed, and screening frequency. This is often a more cost-effective option for employers hiring at scale, while saving time without the need to order reports individually. 

How Long Does A Background Check Take In New York?

Many New York state employment background checks can be completed within one business day. However, turnaround times also vary based on the scope, type of screening, and the accessibility of the data.

New York background checks require navigating a complex court system. New York City alone has supreme civil courts, supreme criminal courts, civil courts, and criminal courts. Outside of New York City, there are supreme, county, district, city, town, and village courts—many of which don’t make online records available, which can impact the turnaround times. However, the New York State Office of Court Administration maintains a searchable database of court records from certain local civil courts, Civil Supreme Court cases, and selected state courts. 

Partnering with a background check provider, like GoodHire, can help simplify the legal maze and speed your background check process. With access to databases and court researcher relationships with courthouses across the country, GoodHire helps shorten turnaround times for many types of New York background checks, while providing comprehensive results.

County Resources

The following resources provide more information about background check laws governing major cities and counties in New York. Note: The City of New York is made up of five boroughs. Each borough is a county of New York State.

Albany County

Located in the east-central part of the state, Albany County has over 315,800 residents in 523 square miles. Albany, the New York state capital, is the largest city, followed by Cohoes and Watervliet. Administrative, management, and other white-collar jobs are the primary occupations in Albany County, part of an area known as “Tech Valley,” and home to 12 colleges and universities. 

Public Information & Records: 

A ban-the-box laws applies to positions within the county government.

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Bronx County

Bronx County is coextensive with the Bronx, an NYC borough, and is home to more than 1.4 million people. The Bronx has a rich cultural history and is known as one of the birthplaces of hip hop. The New York Yankees call the county home and there are many arts and cultural attractions. There are also several colleges and universities in Bronx County, including Fordham University and three campuses of the City University of New York. 

Public Information & Records: 

A ban-the-box laws applies to positions within the county government.

Dutchess County

With the Hudson River on its west and the New York-Connecticut border on its east, Dutchess County occupies 796 square miles in the Hudson Valley, north of New York City. One of New York’s first counties, it has a population of more than 297,500. Poughkeepsie is the county seat and biggest city, followed by Beacon. Healthcare, administrative, and managerial jobs dominate this county. 

Public Information & Records: 

A ban-the-box laws applies to positions within the county government.

Erie County

Bordering Lake Erie and Ontario, Canada, in upstate New York, Erie County has about 950,300 residents. Boasting 1,043 square miles in size, it’s one of New York’s most densely populated and fastest-growing counties. Buffalo is the biggest city and county seat, and home to the NFL’s Buffalo Bills. 

Public Information & Records: 

A ban-the-box law applies to Buffalo employers and city vendors with at least 15 employees.

Monroe County

Located in the Finger Lakes area, Monroe County is south of the border with Ontario, Canada. It has a population of about 752,000 in 657 square miles. Monroe County is home to the international headquarters of various global companies as well as many small tech startups and is known as the world capital of imaging. Rochester is its biggest city and county seat.

Public Information & Records: 

A ban-the-box laws applies to positions within the city government of Rochester.

New York County

Packing a population of just under 1.6 million and more than one million commuters per day into just 23 square miles, New York County, which is consolidated with the borough of Manhattan, is the cultural and economic center of the US… and perhaps the world. The “Big Apple” houses Wall Street as well as dozens of top tourist attractions, media companies, historic sites, and cultural institutions. The Upper East Side is its most populous neighborhood.

Public Information & Records: 

Ban-the-box laws apply to New York City employers with at least four employees, including at least one working in New York City.

Onondaga County

Onondaga County is in the Finger Lakes region of New York, with a population of 468,200 in 778 square miles. Syracuse is the most populous city, the county seat, and home to Syracuse University. Healthcare and education are the major industries.

Public Information & Records: 

A ban-the-box laws applies to positions within the city government of Syracuse.

Orange County

Home to the West Point military academy, Orange County is located on the Hudson River in the southeastern part of the state. With a population of 405,900 in 812 square miles, the county’s most populous cities are Newburgh, Middletown, and Kiryas Joel. It is the only county in New York State which borders both the Hudson and Delaware rivers.

Public Information & Records: 

A ban-the-box laws applies to positions within the city government of Newburgh.

Queens County

Queens County is made up of the Queens borough of New York City and is home to about 2.3 million residents. Queens County has the second largest economy in NYC, after Manhattan, with a diverse range of industries, including trade, transportation, utilities, healthcare, and film and television production. It is also home to two of the largest airports in the world, JFK International Airport and LaGuardia Airport. The New York Mets also call Queens County home.

Public Information & Records: 

Ban-the-box laws apply to New York City employers with at least 4 employees.

Richmond County

Richmond County is located in New York City harbor and is made up entirely of the borough of Staten Island and is home to nearly half a million people. Richmond County has a large amount of wildlife and federal, state, and local parks and wooded areas. Residents can commute to New York City using the Staten Island Ferry or by highway over the Verrazano Bridge. The county has an arts district, museums, a botanical garden, a zoo, and Historic Richmond Town, a living history village and museum complex.

Public Information & Records: 

Ban-the-box laws apply to New York City employers with at least 4 employees.

Suffolk County

Over 1,400 of Suffolk County’s 2,373 square miles are water, befitting one of Long Island’s counties. The county has 1.53 million residents; Brentwood, West Babylon, and Coram are the most populous cities. Suffolk County boasts diverse industries, including several universities, scientific research facilities, the high-tech Route 110 corridor, and a plethora of farms and wineries that make it the biggest agricultural county in the state.

Public Information & Records: 

A ban-the-box laws apply to Suffolk County employers with at least 15 employees.

Tompkins County

Tompkins County’s most populous city is Ithaca, also the county seat and the home of Cornell University. Occupying 492 square miles in the Finger Lakes region, the county has a population of just 104,700 and boasts four state parks. Education is its biggest industry.

Public Information & Records: 

A ban-the-box laws applies to positions within the county government of Tompkins County and the city government of Ithaca.

Ulster County

Home to the Catskill Mountains and numerous nature preserves and forests, Ulster County is a popular vacation spot. Its 1,124 square miles sit in the middle of the Hudson River Valley, bordered by the Hudson River. Agriculture is a major industry for the county’s 182,300 residents. Kingston, the county seat, is the most populous city, followed by New Paltz.

Public Information & Records: 

A ban-the-box laws applies to positions within the county government of Ulster County and the city governments of Kingston and Woodstock.

Westchester County

Westchester’s Long Island Sound shore features harbors, beaches, and nature preserves, but is also home to thriving high-tech and biotech industries. With a population of 990,000 in 431 square miles, the county’s most populous cities are Yonkers, New Rochelle, and Mount Vernon. Westchester was one of the nation’s earliest suburbs. 

Public Information & Records: 

A ban-the-box laws applies to positions within the county government of Westchester County and the city government of Yonkers.

Get a New York State Background Check With GoodHire

Pre-employment screenings are often an important step in making informed hiring decisions, but New York background check laws can make it challenging to find and review the information you need, while remaining legally compliant. Using a trusted, third-party provider, like GoodHire, can simplify the process. 

GoodHire offers 100+ screening options with fast turnaround times, automated tools, and customizable packages, helping to save time and improve efficiency in your hiring process. Get started with New York background checks today.

Get A New York State Background Check Today

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GoodHire's background check platform makes it easy to order reports and review results.

The resources provided here are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. We advise you to consult your own counsel if you have legal questions related to your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.