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Do I have to disclose an ACD on my NY job application?

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?”

Excellent question.

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.

Cannabis in the New York Workplace

Cannabis in the New York workplace? New York State has a law about that. satterlaw.com/blog (Picture of a man smoking)

In July 2022, Senator Schumer’s Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act bill was introduced, seeking to decriminalize marijuana federally. There are a variety of reasons the bill may not have the votes to pass, but many states – including New York – have laws that prohibit discrimination against employees who use cannabis… sort of.

So, what are the rules about cannabis in the New York workplace? In New York, employees’ lawful off-duty conduct is technically protected.  And in March 2021, New York Labor Law was amended to specify that lawful off-duty conduct includes recreational use of marijuana.

Does this mean you can smoke up at work with impunity? NOPE. Please don’t do it – you’ll get fired.  (See our previous blog posts here  and here for more information about how marijuana can still get you fired.)  But it does mean that a New York employee who works in a non-safety sensitive position shouldn’t be getting tested for cannabis, and shouldn’t be getting into trouble for off-duty use unless the employee “manifests specific articulable symptoms of cannabis impairment” that interfere with job performance or safety. What are “articulable symptoms of cannabis impairment?” Very good question. Nobody knows. Bottom line, don’t be high at work.

Also, if there are state or federal regulations (for example Department of Transportation rules) that require testing, the employer can still test and take disciplinary action on the basis of a positive test. If you have specific questions about cannabis in the New York workplace, make sure you consult with a New York workplace attorney!

So, the workplace is not going to become a magical mystery tour any time soon.  But what you do after work is starting look a little more like your own business.

New York Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act

Información adicional en español aquí y aquí.

Historically, farm workers have few protections under federal labor statutes, making it difficult for them to unionize, earn fair wages, assert workers’ compensation claims, or enjoy adequate rest periods. At the beginning of 2020, the New York State Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act implemented the following provisions to improve working conditions for farm laborers:

  • Farm workers have the right to unionize. Section 701 of the New York Labor Law has been amended to include farmworkers as “employees” and farm owners as “employers,” and other sections of the law have been amended to give farmworkers some of the same unionization rights as other private sector workers.  Note, however, that farmworkers cannot legally strike.
  • Maximum 60-hour workweeks and overtime: NYLL 163-a limits the workweek to 60 hours for farm workers, and requires employers to pay time and a half for overtime hours. Additionally, section 161 now states that farm laborers are allowed 24 consecutive hours of rest per calendar week.
  • Section 225 of the Public Health Law allows code officers to inspect premises inhabited by fewer than five persons, and to enforce sanitary code requirements for living quarters.
  • Workers’ Compensation: Workers’ Compensation coverage has been expanded to more employees, and notices must be posted in both Spanish and English. Supervisors are required to report injuries to the employer, and employers are prohibited from retaliating against workers who file for Workers’ Compensation benefits.
  • Farm Laborers’ Wage Board: A wage board is empowered to make recommendations regarding overtime rates for farm workers to the governor and legislature.
  • Employers must get a permit to operate housing for farm laborers, which improves the chances that living quarters will be safe and sanitary.

Notwithstanding early legal challenges and the pandemic, farmworkers are starting to unionize and assert their rights.  Recently, vineyard workers on Long Island became the first unionized farmworkers in the state, joining Local 338 RWDSU/UFSW.  This is an enormous stride in the long history of farmworker rights, and it is only the beginning.

In January 2022, the New York Farm Laborer’s Wage Board voted require overtime pay for farmworkers after 40 hours of work in a week–but the Wage Board has not adopted the official report, which would trigger the timeline for the New Yok Labor Commissioner to approve or overturn the vote.  Watch this space.

If you have questions about how your rights might be affected by the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act, contact a workers’ rights attorney today.

 

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