The Fair Criminal Record Screening Standards bill, signed by Mayor Michael Nutter in April 2011, goes into effect today. This new law makes it unlawful for organizations with 10 or more employees in the City of Philadelphia to do the following:

  • Inquire about or require an applicant to disclose any criminal convictions during the application process and first interview

  • 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

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). If an employer does not conduct any interviews, then it is not permitted to conduct any inquiries regarding criminal records.

Under this law, job applications that contain 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, the law does not prohibit employers from running criminal background checks on applicants later in the hiring process, or on current employees. It also imposes no bar on taking adverse action against applicants or employees if the criminal conviction relates to the fitness for a particular position.

Violations of the law are a Class III offense subject to a $2,000 fine per violation.

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.


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This alert is a periodic publication of Ballard Spahr LLP and is intended to notify recipients of new developments in the law. It should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own attorney concerning your situation and specific legal questions you have.

 

 

 

 


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