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AG: Party City discriminated against workers with criminal records

Customers enter a New Hyde Park Party City

Customers enter a New Hyde Park Party City on Thursday, Oct. 02, 2014. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Party City has agreed to pay a $95,000 penalty to settle state charges that it discriminates against applicants and employees with criminal records, the office of Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced Thursday.

The attorney general's office said it began investigating the Rockaway, New Jersey-based, party-goods retailer in September 2013 after learning that a human resource manager recruiting at a Manhattan job fair said the company didn't hire applicants with criminal records. The office declined to say how it heard about the alleged remarks.

The office also said a New York City store manager admitted that Party City employees with records didn't get full-time jobs. And a review of the company's hiring records and policies revealed that those employees didn't advance beyond part-time seasonal positions, the office said. The investigation led to the settlement.

Party City executives didn't return several telephone calls seeking comment nor did they reply to a fax sent where media inquiries are directed. In a settlement, a company neither admitted nor denied guilt.

State corrections and human-rights laws prohibit companies from discriminating against applicants and employees with convictions before determining such things as the conviction's relevance to a job's requirements.

Efforts to help people with convictions re-enter society "are important to preventing recidivism among these individuals, and access to gainful employment opportunities is key," the attorney general's office said.

Party City has nearly 5,000 employees in 49 stores across New York State, the office said.

As part of the settlement, Party City agreed to remove from its applications questions about applicants' criminal records. It also agreed "to make good faith efforts" to solicit applicants from groups that help ex-offenders with work skills.

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