Philadelphia’s Ban the Box has been on the books since 2011.  However, it was recently amended and certain changes went into effect yesterday (3/14/16).  Here are the basics about the Fair Criminal Records Screening Standards Ordinance (pay special attention to those items in bold/italics):

  • It is illegal (i.e., an unlawful discriminatory practice) in Philadelphia for employers to ask about criminal backgrounds during the job application process.  Employers must wait until they have provided the job candidate with a conditional offer of employment.
  • The ordinance now applies to employers with 1+ employees (previously it was 10+ employees).
  • Permits employers to consider criminal convictions only within seven (7) years from the date of application.
  • Employers are prohibited from asking at any time about arrests or criminal accusations which did not lead to a conviction.
  • Employers must conduct an individualized assessment.
  • Employers must post the poster issued by the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR) in a conspicuous place for job candidates to see (e.g., a company website or on the premises).
  • Complaints can be filed within 300 days of an “unlawful act” with the PCHR and could ultimately be filed in court.  In other words, there is a private right of action which can be enforced in court.
  • Employers can reject a job candidate based on your criminal record only if the person poses an unacceptable risk to the business or to other people.  If a job candidate is rejected, the employer must send the decision to the job candidate in writing with a copy of the background report used to make the decision AND must afford the job candidate ten (10) business days to give an explanation of their record, proof that it is wrong, or proof of rehabilitation.  So the question here is — does an employer send this notice during the FCRA required pre-adverse action phase (when they haven’t technically “rejected” the job candidate) or wait until the FCRA required adverse action step (but then the employer has to wait another 10 days).

For the text of the ordinance click here.

For more on Philadelphia’s Ban the Box click here.

For a complete list of changes to Philadelphia’s Ban the Box click here.