By Dave Katzenmeyer
President, Genesis Background Screening Services
The City of Philadelphia Expands Their “Ban the Box” Law On December 2015
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter amended the city’s current “Ban the Box” law, Fair Criminal Records Screening Standard§ 9-3504. The amendment expands the number of employers it effects and has more restrictions on the use of criminal background checks during the hiring process. The amendments take effect 90 days from December 15, 2015 and update the city’s original Fair Criminal Screening Standards Ordinance that was enacted in 2012.
Highlights of the amendment include:
No employer shall have a policy of automatic exclusion of applicants with a criminal conviction. Determination must be based on individual circumstances:
The nature of the offense
How much time has passed
Duties of the job
Evidence of rehabilitation.
Employers can only inquire about criminal backgrounds after an offer of employment has been made, but if an applicant discloses information during the application process voluntarily, an employer may discuss the criminal conviction during that time. An employer may reveal their intent to an applicant that a criminal background check will be performed after any conditional employment offer has been made.
Once background screening has been performed, employers can only consider convictions from the last seven years or if the applicant was in prison, release from confinement. If the employer decides to reject the applicant, they must provide a copy of the record and clarify why the decision was made. At that time, the employer must allow the applicant ten business days to refute and provide evidence of inaccuracies in the records.
New Jersey’s Ban-the-Box Act became effective in March 2015
To clarify the regulations, here are the key items addressed:
The act applies to employers who employ 15 or more employees, even if those employees are in different locations.
If your company has employees in multiple states and uses uniform employment applications and forms, there must be a statement immediately before any questions regarding criminal records that clearly states the applicant is instructed not to answer the question until after the first interview provided the physical location of the position will be in New Jersey.
It is important to note that delaying answering the criminal record question until after the first interview requires a specific definition of what constitutes an interview. Communicating by email, a written questionnaire or electronic application is not considered an interview. An interview would be a live contact either in person, on the phone or video conferencing that involves discussion of qualifications and consideration for the position.
During the initial employment process, employers may not search the internet for any information about their applicant’s criminal background – including DUI, DWI and motor vehicle violations. Apprentices and interns are protected by this law, but independent contractors are not. However, as many employers are confused about how to define whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor based on meeting the criteria of the Department of Labor, your company could be at risk.
You are NOT banned from performing background screens, but you need to understand the timing and circumstances to comply with the regulations. If you need help to stay compliant with the ever-changing regulations, a professional CRA can make it easier for you. For a free consultation, you can call Genesis Background Screening Services at 866 944-0041 ext 106, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.genesisbackgroundscreening.com