Tompkins County

The Tompkins County Legislature unanimously voted to "ban the box" at the legislature meeting July 5.

Within the next two months, the online job applications used by county departments, towns, villages, and school districts (other than Ithaca City School District) will no longer have a box that applicants are required to check at the beginning of the application process if they have committed a crime.

"While an affirmative response to the question regarding prior criminal convictions does not eliminate the individual from consideration for employment, asking the question at the beginning of the hiring process may deter an individual from applying for jobs for which they might be eligible and qualified," states the approved resolution. 

Public officer titles would not be affected by the ban, as New York State's Public Officers Law prohibits individuals with felony convictions from serving as a public officer and places restrictions on those who have been convicted of misdemeanors. 

For most other positions, applicants would be asked whether they have prior convictions only if they are a finalist for a position, and only the county's personnel department would know the results of the background check.

The personnel department will evaluate the relevance of the conviction. If the applicant is cleared, as most are according to Amy Wilson Guerreri, County Personnel Commissioner, then the department head or appointing authority is not informed of the criminal history of the applicant. 

"We want to remove any perceived barriers and impediments to employment and give everyone a fair opportunity to apply for civil service," Guerreri said. "This really aligns well with our values of a fair and equitable recruitment and requirement process." 

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