Pass the Opportunity to Compete Ordinance – BAN THE BOX in Rochester

For the last 6 months Empire Justice Center has been working with the Rochester Ban the Box Coalition to Pass the Opportunity to Compete Ordinance.

We just launched a Petition and need your help to get it off the ground. Will you take 30 seconds to sign it now? Here’s the link:

Democrat & Chronicle story:

Our Fact Sheet is here Ban the Box-Opportunity to Compete-Fact Sheet

Here’s why it’s important:

NEED:  One out of every four adults has an arrest or criminal record.  Approximately 70% of employers currently ask in their job application whether an applicant has been convicted of a crime.  If an applicant replies “yes”, regardless of their skills and qualifications, in most cases, they will never be considered.  Such discrimination not only decreases economic opportunity and public safety, but also violates New York State law and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) fair hiring recommendations.

SOLUTION: Help the City of Rochester pass “The Opportunity to Compete Ordinance” to allow people with a conviction history to compete fairly for employment without compromising safety and security on the job.  This ordinance will increase fair hiring practices, reduce crime and recidivism, and allow all members of our community to meaningfully contribute to our local economy and achieve financial independence for themselves and their families.


SUMMARY: The Opportunity to Compete Ordinance would require the City of Rochester, its contractors, and private employers located in the City to delay consideration of an applicant’s conviction history until after the initial interview, when they have determined the applicant’s qualifications meet the requirements for the job.


  • It applies to the City of Rochester, its contractors, and private employers located in the City with four or more employees.
  • Any sensitive positions that require background checks by law or in law enforcement are exempt.
  • Employers may still inquire about criminal convictions, but only after the initial interview when the applicant is deemed qualified for the job.
  • It reinforces an employer’s legal discretion to focus on applicants’ skills and qualifications, screen out disqualified candidates, and hire the most qualified applicant for the job.
  • It brings employers into compliance with New York Correction Law Article 23A, which prohibits discrimination based on criminal convictions, and EEOC Guidance on enforcement of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race and national origin.
  • Ten States, the District of Columbia, and 56 U.S. cities and counties (including Buffalo & New York City) have adopted similar policies with bipartisan support.
  • Employers and human resources departments across the country with similar policies attest to the ease of implementation, the streamlining of resources, the benefit of expanding their pool of qualified workers, and increasing the diversity of their workforce.
  1. Let us know if your organization would like to endorse this ordinance and we will add you to our growing list.
  2. Make your voice heard at the Public Hearing: Tuesday, May 13, 2014, 6:30 p.m. City Council Chambers, City Hall.
  3. Please share this with your friends, family, community, listservs, and on social media.
  4. You can sign our petition by clicking here.

Rochester Ban the Box Coalition, Judicial Process Commission, SMART Safer Monroe Area Reentry Team, Center for Employment Opportunities, & Empire Justice Center


Reyna Ramolete Hayashi
Workers’ Rights Attorney
Empire Justice Center
Telesca Center for Justice
One West Main Street, Suite 200
Rochester, NY  14614
(585) 295-5825 Fax (585) 454-2518
[email protected]

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