New York State has reached 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.
Quest has approximately 200 locations in New York and employs approximately 42,000 employees worldwide. The company has Rockland facilities in Nanuet, New City, Tappan, Pomona and Suffern as well as Westchester and Putnam counties.
Under the settlement, the company agrees to follow laws prohibiting automatic job disqualification based solely on criminal history, according to Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.
"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.”
Schneiderman said 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.
"Hiring policies that discriminate against applicants with criminal convictions have a disproportionate impact on communities of color," said Glenn E. Martin, vice president at The Fortune Society, a non-profit organization devoted to the successful reentry and reintegration of individuals with criminal justice involvement. "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 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.
Schneiderman said the investigation also revealed that one of Quest’s subsidiary companies, ExamOne Worldwide, 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.
The settlement requires Quest to ensure compliance with the law going forward, with the company modifying its policies, conducting training for employees around these policies and preserve records of its hiring decisions and any complaints related to criminal history discrimination.
Schneiderman said the settlement 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.
Quest Spokeswoman Wendy Bost issued the following statement.
"Quest Diagnostics is committed to complying with the laws and regulations governing our business, including state and federal employment law. We have fully cooperated with the Attorney General’s investigation and reached a resolution aimed at providing the Attorney General with objective evidence of our commitment to abide by New York state employment law regarding individuals with criminal record histories. Our ExamOne paramedical examiners have direct patient access, traveling to the homes and businesses of applicants to collect specimens and other biometric information. As always, we remain firmly focused on putting patients first and serving their needs."
Quest, based in Madison, NJ, is a Fortune 500 company that had $7.4 billion in revenues in 2012. The company says it serves half of the physicians and hospitals in the U.S.