These Three Questions are ILLEGAL on Job Applications in NYC

Finding a job sometimes feels like its very own full-time job — endless searches on job sites, applications that take forever to fill out, curating your resume, and writing cover letters you’re not even sure HR managers are reading. Click, send, wait, and repeat.

The last thing job seekers have time for is discrimination during the hiring process. Thankfully, NYC is home to one of the strongest anti-discrimination laws in the nation, the NYC Human Rights Law, which protects workers and prospective employees from discrimination during the hiring process and ensures they are judged on their skills and job qualifications.

interviewer asking illegal questions

Image credit to Amtec

Below are three questions that are illegal for employers to ask on job applications, during interviews, and in job advertisements:

Question #1: Have you been convicted of a crime?

New York City’s Fair Chance Act (or “Ban the Box” law) prohibits employers from asking about a job applicant’s criminal record prior to making a conditional offer of employment. If you see this question on an application, it’s against the law. The Fair Chance Act, which went into effect in 2015, allows New Yorkers with criminal histories a fair shot at employment and an opportunity to be considered based on their merits, not their past.

Job interview panel

If after offering an applicant a job the employer decides their criminal background disqualifies them for the job, the employer must give the applicant written notice explaining why they are disqualified and a copy of any information they relied on. The job must then be held open for three days, giving the applicant time to respond.



Question #2: What is your current salary?

Everyone in New York City deserves to be paid according to their skills and qualifications, not their previous salary. Being underpaid once should not condemn someone to a lifetime of inequity.

Asking about salary is illegal in NYC

Effective October 31, 2017, it is illegal in NYC for employers to ask about your current or previous salary history during the hiring process, including in job advertisements and on applications. Salary history inquiries perpetuate a cycle of pay inequity for statistically undervalued and underpaid communities, including women and people of color. This new law ensures that New Yorkers are paid according to their skills, not their previous salaries. Employers may, however, ask you what you would like to make or what your salary expectations are.



Question #3: Would you consent to a credit check along with this application?

It is illegal in New York City for an employer to indicate on an application that they will run a credit check as part of their application evaluation.

checking credit history

Under the Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment Act of 2015, employers in New York City are prohibited from checking applicants’ credit history to make employment decisions. Credit checks can adversely affect those who have heavy student loan debt, who have gone through a divorce, have costly medical bills, or have been the victim of identity theft or predatory lending.  Additionally, there is no statistical evidence or studies that show a person’s credit score is in indicator of their ability to perform a job.



Report Job Discrimination:

If you or someone you know have come across these questions on job applications or have experienced discrimination when seeking a job, report it to the NYC Commission on Human Rights by dialing (718) 722-3131 or by calling 311 and asking for Human Rights. The NYC Commission on Human Rights can fine violators up to $250,000 in civil penalties for willful, wanton, or malicious violations of the Law and award compensatory damages to victims, including emotional distress damages and other benefits. Visit for more information on the Law and your rights.


Andrew Teixeira
About Andrew Teixeira


Andrew Teixeira is a staff member at the NYC Commission on Human Rights, the agency responsible for combating discrimination and enforcing the Human Rights Law, which prohibits discrimination in the employment, housing and public places based on a number of protected categories, including race, gender, age, disability, among others.

This entry was posted in Guest Posts, Interview Tips.