On December 15, 2015, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed Bill 150815 expanding the city’s ban-the-box legislation. The new ordinance, which goes into effect on or about March 14, 2016, amends Chapter 9-3500 of the Philadelphia Code entitled “Fair Criminal Records Screening Standards,” by modifying certain definitions and adding additional requirements regarding the screening of job and license applicants for criminal history. With limited exceptions, the new ordinance applies to employers having any employees within the city of Philadelphia. (The prior ordinance covered employers with 10 or more employees.) The highlights of the law include:
- questions about criminal records must be removed from the job application–the ordinance specifically notes that multi-state applications may not include the question with a disclaimer for Philadelphia applicants not to answer;
- employment materials cannot contain questions or refer to the applicant’s willingness to submit to a background check before a conditional offer has been extended;
- criminal record inquiries must be postponed until after a conditional offer has been made;
- notice of the background check must state that any consideration of the results will be tailored to the job;
- employment decisions can only include a conviction that occurred less than seven years ago–employers may add to the seven year period any time of actual incarceration served because of the offense;
- screening process must include individualized assessment for each applicant;
- if the applicant is rejected based on a criminal conviction, he/she must be advised of the specific reason and provided with a copy of the record.