Brooklyn arena used “flawed and discriminatory” background check practices, suit says

A suit filed in federal court in the Eastern District of New York alleges that Brooklyn Events Center, LLC – the owner/operator of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center – unlawfully denies employment to applicants with criminal records without providing them with information regarding their denial of employment.

The lawsuit alleges violations of federal and state laws regulating the use of criminal history screening policies and practices and is one of the first class-action suits under New York City’s new Fair Chance Act, according to the law firm Outten & Golden LLP.

The Fair Chance Act makes it illegal for most employers in New York City to ask about the criminal record of job applicants before making a job offer. If, after a job offer, an employer wants to revoke the offer based on the existence of a criminal record, the employer must provide the applicant with the information they used to deny the applicant employment as well as a “Fair Chance Notice” form. The applicant must then be given a chance to explain the circumstances of the conviction and to challenge the employer’s decision to deny them the job. The legislation is designed to ensure that individuals with criminal histories are considered based on their qualifications rather than conviction histories.

In the case of Kelly v. Brooklyn Events Ctr., LLC, the plaintiff applied for a job at the arena in August 2016 but was subsequently denied the position after he was subjected to a background check. The plaintiff claims he was never provided with the information used to deny him the position and was never provided with required with the required “Fair Chance Notice” form.

"Because Defendants never provided Mr. Kelly with crucial information regarding his denial of employment, Mr. Kelly was unaware of what information was being reported on him, unable to review the information reported about him for accuracy and completeness, contextualize even true information, review Defendants' arguments (if any) for why they believed his conviction barred him from employment, and/or explain why he was nonetheless entitled to employment, including any evidence of rehabilitation and good conduct,” the suit says.

In all, the complaint asserts claims under the New York City Human Rights Law, the 2015 Fair Chance Act amendment to that law, the New York State Correction Law, the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act and the New York credit reporting laws.

Source: Outten & Golden LLP, 8/7/2017

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