Agreement with Quest Diagnostics ensures fair consideration of ex-offenders in hiring
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced today that his office has secured a settlement with Quest Diagnostics, one of the world's largest providers of medical diagnostic testing, information and services, to ensure that applicants for employment are not automatically disqualified based on prior arrests or criminal convictions and without considering mitigating factors, as required by New York state law. Quest has approximately 200 locations in New York and employs approximately 42,000 employees worldwide.
Under the settlement, the company agrees to follow laws prohibiting automatic job disqualification based solely on criminal history.
"My office is committing to ensuring equal access to employment opportunities for New Yorkers across our state," Schneiderman said. "Those who have paid their debt to society deserve a fair chance to make an honest living. It's illegal under New York law to discriminate against job applicants based solely on their history of criminal conviction and, with this settlement, Quest has now agreed to needed reform to ensure its job applicants are treated fairly. The law is specifically designed to protect those who are otherwise qualified for the jobs they are applying for."
State law requires that employers consider a number of mitigating factors in making hiring decisions based on criminal history, including the nature and gravity of an applicant's criminal conviction and its bearing, if any, on any specific responsibilities of the job sought, the time that elapsed since the conviction, the age of the applicant at the time when the offense was committed and evidence of rehabilitation. Schneiderman's office is committed to upholding these laws to ensure that all New Yorkers receive fair consideration in seeking employment.
Glenn E. Martin, vice president at The Fortune Society Inc., a nonprofit organization devoted to the successful re-entry and reintegration of individuals with criminal justice involvement, said: "Hiring policies that discriminate against applicants with criminal convictions have a disproportionate impact on communities of color. Due in large part to the war on drugs and its focus on poor urban neighborhoods, racial minorities are incarcerated at much higher rates than other groups, and these disparities produce consequences that can hamper their efforts to re-enter the job market. We applaud Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for taking steps to bring New York employers into compliance with the law."
After receiving a complaint from a prospective job applicant and reviewing other information, the attorney general's office conducted an investigation and determined that Quest had deemed ineligible or automatically disqualified job applicants with a criminal history. The attorney general's investigation found that some applicants were rejected for employment regardless of their qualifications or experience in the field, even where the prior convictions were years old and the applicant had shown evidence of rehabilitation and a clean record since.
The investigation also revealed that one of Quest's subsidiary companies, ExamOne Worldwide Inc., contracted with insurance companies and violated New York law by imposing a blanket ban on hiring job applicants who had a criminal conviction within the prior seven years.
Pursuant to the settlement and the requirements of state law, Quest will ensure compliance with the law going forward, modify its policies, conduct training for employees around these policies and preserve records of its hiring decisions and any complaints related to criminal history discrimination. This corrective action applies to Quest and all of its subsidiaries, including ExamOne. Quest will pay a $70,000 penalty to the office of the attorney general and provide periodic reports to the attorney general's office to ensure compliance with the law.
This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Sandra Pullman, under the supervision of Civil Rights Bureau Chief Kristen Clarke and First Deputy of Affirmative Litigation Janet Sabel.
The Civil Rights Bureau of the Attorney General's Office is committed to promoting access to equal employment opportunities and combating discrimination faced by all New Yorkers. To file a civil rights complaint, contact the attorney general's office at 212-416-8250, [email protected], or visit www.ag.ny.gov.