Friday, April 29, 2011

New Philadelphia Law Restricts Criminal Records Inquiry On Employment Applications

New Philadelphia Law Restricts Criminal
Records Inquiry On Employment Applications

On April 13, 2011, Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter signed
the Fair Criminal Screening Standards Ordinance, which will
change both the application and screening processes for entities
with employees working in Philadelphia. This ordinance will become
effective on July 12, 2011.
The new law establishes limits and requirements for the screening of
criminal records by certain Philadelphia employers, and will likely change
both the application and screening processes of many employers.
This law generally prohibits unfair discrimination against persons
previously arrested or convicted of one or more criminal offenses which
are not then pending against the person. The City of Philadelphia passed
this law in the hopes that it will help qualified ex-criminal offenders obtain
access to employment opportunities, reduce recidivism, increase public
safety and stabilize city neighborhoods.
General Requirements of the Screening Standards
The new law will preclude city agencies and private employers
employing ten or more persons within the City of Philadelphia from the
following actions when seeking to fill a job:
• making any inquiry regarding criminal convictions before and
during the application process and initial interview process, or
from requiring that applicants disclose such information;1 or
• inquiring about an individual’s arrests that did not result in
convictions, unless such inquiry is required or permitted by
another law.
It is expected that employers will be able to ask about criminal
convictions and conduct a criminal background check once the initial
interview is conducted. Employers are required to abide by the following
standards when making a criminal background inquiry:
• determine an applicant’s initial qualification for a position prior
to conducting a criminal record check;
• consider the bearing, if any, that the criminal offenses for which
a person was previously convicted will have on his or her
fitness or ability to perform one or more of the duties
and responsibilities of the position in question, as well as
the elapsed time between the offenses and the potential
employment, and the seriousness of the offenses;
• notify the applicant of any potential adverse employment
action resulting from a criminal check, including specifying the
part of the record check concerning the city or the county
agency; and
• provide the applicant or the current employee an opportunity
to present information rebutting the accuracy or relevance of
the criminal record report, and to claim violation of this law.
Advice To Employers
Employers who will be subject to the requirements of this law should
review their employment applications used for employees in Philadelphia,
as well as in cities with similar laws, to ensure that applications provided
to applicants prior to or during initial interviews do not include questions
about criminal convictions.
You should also begin the process of educating your hiring managers,
human resources and recruiting professionals, including professionals
located outside Philadelphia who recruit for, and supervise, jobs that will
be filled in Philadelphia, regarding this new law to ensure that the
recruiting and interviewing processes comports with it.

For more information visit our website at or
contact any attorney in the Philadelphia office of Fisher & Phillips
at 610.230.2150.

PRESENTED BY: Executive Leadership, LLC
SPECIALIZING IN: Career Transformation/Change and Executive Coaching/Development
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