Earlier this year a client asked me, “Do I have to disclose an ACD on my New York job application?” The client was looking for a new job after having been arrested. Understandably, he had a lot of questions about how the arrest and possible conviction were going to impact his future job prospects. Long story short, the criminal matter (for which I did not provide representation, as I am not a criminal defense specialist), was resolved with an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal [“ACD”] – which provides for a full dismissal of the charges following a period of time, usually six months, as long as the defendant does not get arrested again during the adjournment period.
The client then posed the question: “Do I have to disclose the ACD on my job application?”
Here’s how an ACD is treated in New York State in the context of finding a job. [Please note that New York City has different rules. Call an attorney if you’re not sure how to respond to employment questions about arrests!]
New York Executive Law §296.16 was amended in 2019 to provide that job applicants are not required to disclose information about an arrest that was followed by an ACD. However, an ACD is likely to show up on a pre-employment background check until the terms have been satisfied. If the applicant has exercised their right not to disclose, a prospective employer may assume the applicant is being dishonest and trying to cover up the arrest. Luckily, the New York law prohibits employers from taking an adverse action because of an ACD. Unluckily, employers may not be aware of this prohibition.
In this catch-22 situation, it is a very good idea to contact the New York State Division of Human rights, or a New York workers’ rights attorney, or both. After we talked, my client knew his rights as he went through the application process. I am happy to report that he got the job.
Always contact a workers’ rights attorney in your jurisdiction if you are concerned about how an arrest might affect your employment.