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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Ban the Box Law

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The Basics

Key Takeaway

  • Employers must wait until after a conditional offer of employment to inquire about criminal history.
  • Employers may not consider convictions older than seven years excluding any period of incarceration.
  • The law requires a job-related assessment and certain notices when the decision is based on a conviction or a pending record.

Who does this effect?

Covers applicants and employees, and also gig economy workers and independent contractors. Applies to all employers in the city of Philadelphia.

What does the law provide?

  • Criminal history information can be sought after a conditional offer of employment (need not be in writing). If an applicant voluntarily discloses a criminal conviction, the employer may discuss the conviction with the applicant at that time.
  • Employers may not make any inquiry about, require a person to disclose, or take adverse action against any person on the basis of any arrest or criminal accusation made against such person, which is not pending against the person and did not result in a conviction.
  • Employers may only consider a conviction to the extent that the conviction occurred fewer than 7 year from the date of the inquiry. Any period of incarceration shall not be included in the calculation of the 7 year period.
  • Employers may consider pending cases if job-related and employer reasonably concludes that employment would present an unacceptable risk to the operation of the business, co-workers or customers, exclusion is compelled by business necessity. An employer that considers pending cases also must consider other specific requirements.
  • A conviction can only result in disqualification if the conviction bears a relationship to the employment sought, the employer reasonably concludes that the applicant would present an unacceptable risk to the operation of the business or to co-workers or customers, and that exclusion of the applicant is compelled by business necessity. The employer must consider the applicant’s specific record, consider the particular job sought and conduct an individualized review to consider the following factors: (a) The nature of the offense; (b) The time that has passed since the offense; (c) The applicant’s employment history before and after the offense and any period of incarceration; (d) The particular duties of the job being sought; (e) Any character or employment references provided by the applicant; and (f) Any evidence of the applicant’s rehabilitation since conviction.

Are there any notice requirements?

  • An employer may give notice, to prospective applicants or during the application process, of intent to conduct a criminal background check after a conditional offer is made, provided such notice shall be concise, accurate, made in good faith, and state that consideration of the background check will be tailored to the requirements of the job.
  • A covered employer shall post a summary of its requirements, in a form supplied by the Commission, in a conspicuous place on the employer’s website and premises, where applicants and employees will be most likely to notice and read it.
  • Where the adverse decision is based on criminal history information, regardless of the source, a pre-adverse action notice must include a copy of the report and specify the items that are the basis for the intention to rescind the offer.
  • The employer shall allow the applicant 10 days to provide evidence of the inaccuracy of the information or to provide an explanation.

Are there any exceptions?

The law does not apply if the inquiries or adverse actions prohibited in the law are specifically authorized by any other applicable law. Employers should consult with their to see if they are otherwise exempt from the law.