Philadelphia’s Fair Criminal Records Screening Standards Ordinance also known as Ban the Box law was first enacted in July, 2011. Under the law, employers with 10 or more employees are prohibited from inquiring about criminal convictions during the employment application process and in the first interview. Employers are prohibited from making personnel decisions based on arrests or criminal accusations that did not result in a conviction. The purpose of enacting this law was to provide individuals with a criminal record an opportunity to be considered for a job position based on merit.
New amendments to Philadelphia’s Ban the Box will become effective March 14, 2016. The law will now cover employers with at least one employee. Additionally, employers that reject a prospective employee because of their criminal record must notify the prospective employee in writing and provide a copy of the criminal background check. The applicant will then have 10 days to provide proof that the background check is inaccurate or to offer an explanation. Employers may conduct criminal background checks after a conditional offer is made to the prospective employee. The criminal background check, however, must only go back seven years.
If an applicant has a criminal conviction and had already received a conditional offer, the employer may withdraw the employment under certain circumstances. The conviction record must “reasonably lead an employer to conclude that the applicant would pose an unacceptable risk in the positions applied for,” or the applicant failed to meet the job’s legal or physical requirements. Employers are prohibited from establishing policies that automatically excludes individuals with criminal convictions, or specific criminal convictions. Instead, employers must consider the following:
- Nature of the offense
- Time that has passed since the offense
- Prospective employee’s employment history before and after the offense and during the period of incarceration
- Particular duties of the job being sought
- Character of employment references
- Evidence of rehabilitation since the conviction
The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations has released the Philadelphia’s Fair Chance Hiring Law Poster, which must be displayed in a conspicuous place on the employer’s website and premises. For more information, make sure to visit Philadelphia’s official website.