Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Mayor Michael A. Nutter has signed an update to the Ban the Box legislation known as the Fair Criminal Screening Standards Ordinance and an Executive Order on background checks for City employment to help strengthen anti-discrimination protections for ex-offenders seeking employment in the “City of Brotherly Love,” according to a press release from the Office of the Mayor.
“Ban the Box gives returning citizens the second chance they deserve by reducing a major barrier to employment. When it took effect in 2012, it was a cutting edge policy. But, we’ve learned that it can be more targeted,” Mayor Nutter stated in the press release. “Everyone deserves an opportunity to work and to provide for their families and should not be discriminated against because of previous bad decisions.”
The Ban the Box Ordinance prohibits employers in Philadelphia from inquiring about criminal history on a job application and performing a background check before a conditional offer of employment. If a criminal conviction is found in a background check, the employer must consider the nature of the crime, the time passed since the offense, and the duties of the job. Other key Ban the Box provisions include:
- Employers may conduct a criminal background check only after a conditional offer of employment has been made.
- The Ordinance is applicable to all employers, public and private, with one or more employees.
- Employers must consider guidelines when determining whether to disqualify an applicant on the basis of his or her criminal record.
- An employer can only examine a criminal record going back seven years, excluding periods of incarceration.
- Employers must notify the applicant in writing if they are rejected and provide the applicant with a copy of the criminal history report. Applicants have 10 business days following the rejection to provide evidence of an inaccuracy on the report or to provide an explanation.
- Applicants have 300 calendar days to file a complaint with the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations.
- This Ordinance shall take effect ninety (90) days after it is signed into law (December 15, 2015).
“By expanding the original scope of the Ordinance and putting in place checks that encourage employers to consider the whole person and the gravity of the offense, we can better support returning citizens and their transition back into the working world,” said Mayor Nutter, who also signed an Executive Order that comprehensively addressed background checks for City employment.
The Executive Order sets standards for conducting criminal background checks for employment with the City and for evaluating criminal background check results, defines sensitive positions and barrier convictions, and requires the City to compile and publish a list of sensitive positions and barrier convictions and provides applicants with an opportunity to respond to background check results.
“I believe that the City should lead by example in our policy on hiring returning citizens. Government can’t ask businesses to do something that it isn’t willing to do,” said Mayor Nutter. “Hiring returning citizens is good for the economy and good for the people who gain jobs by government reducing barriers to employment. We can support returning citizens and add qualified workers to government positions.”
Ban the Box is the name of an international campaign by civil rights groups and advocates for ex-offenders aimed at persuading employers to remove the check box that asks if applicants have a criminal record from their hiring applications. The Ban the Box movement is spreading rapidly in the United States and currently includes more than 100 cities and counties as well as 18 states.
More Ban the Box Information from ESR
Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), a leading global background check firm, supports Ban the Box legislation and encourages employers to prepare to adopt Ban the Box policies. To help employers stay up-to-date with Ban the Box, ESR offers a complimentary Ban the Box Information Page with links to news, resources, and legislation about Ban the Box at https://www.esrcheck.com/Ban-the-Box/.
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