“Ban the Box” Law Goes Into Effect Monday

The aim? To give former inmates a better chance at employment.


Photo: www.flazingo.com

A reminder to Philadelphia employers: The city’s new, expanded “ban the box” law goes into effect on Monday, one of the last pieces of legislation signed by former Mayor Nutter to finally take effect.

As we’ve reported before, the new rules are designed to help ex-offenders find jobs by mandating that prospective employers withhold questions about criminal history during the job application process.

Some requirements of the new law:

It expands the law to include almost all private employers in Philadelphia, no matter how small. The original law applied only to companies with 10 or more employees. Now, you only need one employee to trigger the requirements.

It prohibits employers from asking about criminal history until they’ve already made a conditional offer of employment. Previously, the ban only extended as far as the application stage.

The only convictions that can be considered have to have occurred within the last seven years. If the employer wants to reject you for a job, it will be prohibited from doing so based upon long-ago crimes.

If an employer does reject you based on criminal history, it must provide notice of its decision and the reason.

Complaints about violations are handled by Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations. If it determines a complaint is valid, the offender may be required to pay damages up to $2,000 per incident.

The business law firm of Jackson Lewis offers some guidance to Philly employers at its website, and notes: “If an applicant voluntarily discloses a criminal record during the interview process, an employer is permitted in this instance to inquire further about the criminal record.” Still, the firm adds, “where an applicant will be disqualified because of a conviction, employers should document their individualized assessment of the required factors and comply with the notice provision.”

And it’s probably important to note that Philly isn’t alone in passing such legislation. Employment Screening Resources notes: “The Ban the Box movement is spreading rapidly in the U.S. and currently includes more than 100 cities and counties as well as 18 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.”