It is time to revise your employment applications. On April 13, 2011, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed the “Fair Criminal Record Screening Standards” bill into law, making it unlawful discriminatory conduct for organizations with 10 or more employees in the City of Philadelphia to do the following:

  • Knowingly and intentionally inquire about, require a person to disclose, or take any adverse action against any person on the basis of an arrest or criminal accusation not pending against that person and that did not result in a conviction
  • Inquire about or require an applicant to disclose any criminal convictions during the application process and during the first interview

The bill contains an exception if an inquiry or adverse action is otherwise permitted or required by another law (such as criminal justice employers and jobs involving child care, for which the employer is required to conduct background checks).

Under this law, which takes effect in 90 days, employment applications containing a box to check if the applicant has been convicted of a crime, or that ask about arrests or convictions in any manner, must be revised. However, it does not prohibit employers from running criminal background checks on applicants later in the hiring process or on current employees or taking adverse action at that point because of a criminal conviction.

Of course, employers should continue to handle any criminal background check and all information about criminal records in a manner consistent with the employers’ obligations under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Pennsylvania Criminal Records Act, or similar laws in other states, and state and federal anti-discrimination laws.

If you have questions about how this change would affect your operations, contact Shannon D. Farmer at 215.864.8221 or, or any member of Ballard Spahr’s Labor and Employment Group.

Copyright © 2011 by Ballard Spahr LLP.
(No claim to original U.S. government material.)



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