Philadelphia Employment Law News

Criminal Records May Prevent Jobseekers From Finding A Job

Yahoo! News reported that about one in four adults, or 65 million people across the country, has a criminal record, which can often make it difficult for those who are also unemployed to find a job, as many Philadelphia residents can imagine.

A recent report from the National Employment Law Center showed that many employers, including large companies such as Domino's Pizza or Bank of America, will announce job openings that often exclude applicants with a criminal record. One employment ad from Bank of America, for instance, states "candidates must be able to pass: background check (no felonies or misdemeanors)."

Another study conducted last year revealed 92 percent of employers may dismiss some or sometimes all applicants who have a criminal conviction. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, jobseekers in Philly are even required to check a box on job applications when asked whether they have been arrested or convicted for a crime.

However, the City Council is seeking to pass a "ban the box" ordinance that will remove the box from both online and paper job applications. Employers would also be prohibited from asking candidates about their criminal history until after their first interview, which is when they are allowed to run any background checks and ask any questions related to the applicant's criminal record.

"[The ordinance] requires the employer to give candidates the opportunity to be judged strictly on their merits during the application and the first interview ..." explained William Nesheiwat, the director of legislation for City Council member Donna Reed Miller, who sponsors the measure. "Our goal is to create something that helps the individual with a record but does not hurt businesses and their clients."

The proposal, if it passes, will apply to most private employers in Philadelphia, making it broader than those like it in other cities, because such laws usually only apply to city employees.

For more general information on the hiring process, or to find an attorney if you think your rights have been violated during a background check, visit the Related Resources links below.

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