Philadelphia Continues National Trend by Enacting “Ban the Box” Ordinance Prohibiting Inquiries Regarding Criminal Convictions on Employment Applications


A Philadelphia law that prohibits covered employers from inquiring about applicants’ criminal histories until after the first interview was signed into law today by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. The Fair Criminal Record Screening Standards Ordinance (the Ordinance) will take effect in 90 days, i.e., on July 17, 2011. As a result, Philadelphia employers will soon be prohibited from including a “box” on employment applications that an applicant is required to check if he or she has been convicted of a crime.

The Ordinance covers any person or company that employs 10 or more persons within the City of Philadelphia and makes it an “unlawful discriminatory practice” for a covered employer “to make any inquiry regarding or to require any person to disclose or reveal any criminal convictions during the application process.” The “application process,” as defined by the Ordinance, begins at the time an individual inquires about employment and ends when the employer has accepted that individual’s employment application. Clearly, the intent of the Ordinance is to prohibit use of the “box” relating to criminal convictions, which is common on most employment applications.

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