Philadelphia Passes Bill to “Ban-the-Box” for Criminal History

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Philadelphia Bans the Box

Special Announcement to all City of Philadelphia employers:

On December 11, 2015, the City of Philadelphia passed an ordinance amending Title 9 of the Philadelphia Code, entitled “Regulations of Businesses, Trades, and Professions”. The new law establishes provisions and requirements for screening criminal history by all employers with 10 or more employees within the City of Philadelphia. The law will take effect on March 10, 2016.

The law prohibits the following:

1. In connection with the licensing or employment of any person, it shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for a City agency or private employer to make any inquiry regarding or to require any person to disclose or reveal any criminal convictions during the application process. The inclusion of such inquiry on an employment application shall be unlawful, whether or not certain applicants are told they need not answer the question.

The application process shall begin when the applicant inquires about the employment being sought. The process shall end when an employer has extended a conditional offer of employment to the applicant. The inquiry prohibited by this Section shall include any question regarding the applicant’s willingness to submit to a background check.

2. No employer shall maintain a policy of automatically excluding any applicant with a criminal history from a job or class of jobs.

A prospective employer shall not reject an applicant based on his or her criminal history, unless such record includes conviction for an offense that bears such relationship to the employment sought that the employer may reasonably conclude 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. An employer shall make a determination regarding such risk only after reviewing the applicant’s specific criminal history and the particular job being sought, and conduct an individualized assessment of the risk presented. Such assessment shall include:

(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;
(f) Any evidence of the applicant’s rehabilitation since the conviction.

3. If an employer rejects an applicant for a job opening based in whole or in part on criminal history information, the employer shall notify the applicant in writing of such decision and its basis, and shall provide the applicant with a copy of the criminal record report. The employer shall allow the applicant 10 business days to provide evidence of the inaccuracy of the information or to provide an explanation.

This law will require a review of the hiring process in place and may require changes to that process. The complete text can be found here: City of Philadelphia Bill No. 150815

Above all, Justifacts recommends that you consult with your legal department to determine what changes, if any, need to be made to your hiring process in order to comply with this law.


It is important to note that Justifacts is providing this information as a service to our clients. None of the information contained herein should be construed as legal advice, nor is Justifacts engaged to provide legal advice. We go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful. We recommend you consult your attorney or legal department if you want assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation.


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