Philadephia Updates Fair Criminal Records Screening Standards

Effective March 14, 2016, Employers in the City of Philadelphia will no longer be able to ask job candidates questions about previous criminal convictions or to conduct a criminal background check until after a conditional offer of employment is made. The updated ordinance also specifically prohibits the use of a form that includes a question regarding criminal convictions - even if it instructs the candidates not to answer until after an offer of employment is made.

During the application process, employers will be able to notify applicants of the intention to perform a criminal background check following a conditional offer of employment, provided that the notice is concise and states that any consideration of the background check will be tailored to meet the requirements of the job.

Once the criminal check has been processed, employers can only consider convictions within the preceding 7 years. After obtaining the results, the employer must determine if the criminal conviction has a bearing on the job sought and whether or not the applicant would present an unacceptable risk to the operation of the business, to co-workers or to customers.

The job offer cannot be revoked unless: The employer performs the individualized assessment and concludes that hiring the applicant would pose an unacceptable risk in the position applied for or the applicant fails to meet another legal or physical job requirement. If the conditional offer of employment is revoked, the employer must provide written notice of it's decision and the basis for the decision, along with a copy of the criminal history report. The employer must also give the applicant 10 business days to provide any evidence of inaccuracy or to give an explanation.

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