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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

An update to the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Ban the Box legislation signed into law by Mayor Michael A. Nutter – Bill No. 150815 – An Ordinance Amending Chapter 9-3500 of The Philadelphia Code entitled “Fair Criminal Records Screening Standards” – will take effect on Monday, March 14, 2016, and help strengthen anti-discrimination protections for ex-offenders seeking employment in the City, 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 a press release about the updated Ban the Box Ordinance.  “Everyone deserves an opportunity to work and to provide for their families and should not be discriminated against because of previous bad decisions.”

As reported earlier by ESR News, the new Ban the Box law prohibits all private employers and city agencies in Philadelphia from inquiring about criminal history on job applications and performing background checks 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. Key provisions of the updated Ban the Box Ordinance include:

  • Employers may conduct a criminal background check only after a conditional offer of employment has been made.
  • The Ban the Box 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 or to provide an explanation.
  • Applicants have 300 calendar days to file a complaint with the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations.

“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 Executive Order No. 5-15 on the same day – December 15, 2015 – as the Ban the Box update to comprehensively address background checks for employment in Philadelphia.

The Executive Order sets standards for conducting criminal background checks for employment with the City of Philadelphia and for evaluating criminal background check results, defines sensitive positions and barrier convictions. The Executive Order also requires the City of Philadelphia to compile and publish a list of sensitive positions and barrier convictions and provides applicants with an opportunity to respond to background check results.

Ban the Box asks employers to remove the check box from job applications that asks if applicants have a criminal record. The Ban the Box movement is spreading rapidly in the U.S. and currently includes more than 100 cities and counties as well as 18 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) is a leading global background check provider that supports fair and informed Ban the Box legislation and encourages employers to prepare to adopt Ban the Box policies. ESR offers a complimentary Ban the Box Information Page with links to news, resources, and legislation to help employers stay up-to-date. For more information about Ban the Box, please visit

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this web site is for educational purposes only.

© 2016 Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – Making copies or using of any part of the ESR News Blog or ESR website for any purpose other than your own personal use is prohibited unless written authorization is first obtained from ESR.

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