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Amended Ban the Box legislation in Philadelphia

10/4/2018 | Articles


       Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has signed into law an amendment to Philadelphia’s “Ban the Box” legislation that places significant additional restrictions on employers seeking to determine whether prospective employees have criminal records.

        Under the prior Ban the Box law, employers could not ask about an applicant’s criminal history on an employment application or in an initial interview but could conduct criminal background checks after the initial interview and before making a job offer. Under the amended Ban the Box law, employers can only conduct criminal background checks after the employer makes a conditional offer of employment to an applicant. The amended law applies to all public and private employers in the City of Philadelphia with one or more employees, as opposed to employers with ten or more employees under the prior law.

        Employers conducting criminal background checks can only look back for the last seven years of an applicant’s criminal records, excluding periods of incarceration. Under the prior law, employers could review and consider the applicant’s prior criminal history as far back in time as the employer saw fit in its discretion. Employers now must consider guidelines when determining whether to disqualify an applicant on the basis of a criminal record and if an applicant is rejected due to a criminal record, the employer must so notify the applicant and send to the applicant a copy of the criminal history report. Applicants then have ten days to produce evidence that the report is inaccurate or to explain the criminal history. Applicants who are rejected for positions on the basis of a criminal background check have three hundred days to file a complaint with the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations. The amended Ban the Box law takes effect 90 days from December 15, 2015.

      The above changes are substantial and open another avenue for claims against employers. Employers need to amend their hiring practices and ensure that managers who interview applicants are aware of the new restrictions. For more information or to discuss how the amended “Ban the Box” law can affect your business, please contact Kimberly L. Russell, Esquire at 610-941-2541 or