Syracuse business group rallies members on proposed background check law

In an email alert circulated to member businesses Tuesday evening, CenterState CEO president Rob Simpson told business leaders a bill under consideration in the Syracuse Common Council would, "send the wrong message," on job creation.

The legislation, according to CenterState CEO, would make it a crime for private employers in the City of Syracuse to determine whether a job applicant has a history of criminal convictions. The bill is being proposed by Democrat Common Councilor Jean Kessner. The Mayor's office does not have a position on the proposal at this time. It is being reviewed.

In its alert to member businesses, CenterState CEO says, "The bill would prohibit any questions about whether someone has been convicted of a crime from being included on a job application or in the interview process. Businesses asking the question, "Have you ever been convicted of a felony?" would be subject to criminal prosecution, with fines of up to $1,000 for each occurrence."

Jean Kessner, who is sponsoring the proposed legislation told CNYcentral's Michael Benny, "We have a huge amount of people who simply can't get work because of the current laws. We need people gainfully employed." Kessner clarifies her proposal, "This puts off questions about criminal background until a business is ready to make a job offer. It does not prohibit questions about criminal background completely, I would never support that. This is designed to give someone a foot in the door - an interview," Kessner said.

If enacted, this local ordinance
would see Syracuse join other cities incluidng Newark, New Jersey, and Philadelphia with new restrictions on businesses during hiring decisions.

The Common Council will meet to discuss this issue during its study session on Wednesday, February 6, at noon.

Click here for a description of the law in Newark, and what it means for businesses there.