Can Philadelphia employers ask job applicants about criminal convictions?

For now, yes.

However, a bill presently pending in City Council could change that very quickly. I’ll break down the bill and the impact it will have on local employers after the jump.

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City Council is expected to vote, as early as this week, on the “Fair Criminal Screening Standards” bill. This bill is designed to assist those with criminal records — nearly one-fifth of Philadelphia’s population — to get a job.

jail.jpgUnder the new bill, employers may not discriminate or retaliate against job candidates with criminal convictions:

In connection with the licensing or employment of any person, it shall be an
unlawful discriminatory practice for a City or County agency or private employer to
make any inquiry regarding criminal convictions during the application process and
during the initial interviewing process. It shall further be an unlawful discriminatory
practice for a City or County agency or private employer to require any person to
disclose or reveal any criminal convictions made against such person at the application
process and during the initial interviewing process.

The bill does provide, however, that the “prohibition of such inquiries or adverse action shall not apply if such inquiries or adverse action is specifically required or permitted by any other law.”

You can read a copy of the bill here.

The Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce opposes the bill. Mayor Nutter has indicated that he will sign the bill into law if it clears City Council, which could happen as early as this week.

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