Know Your Rights as a Job Applicant with a Criminal Record in Pennsylvania
Job applicants with criminal records face many challenges and bias in the hiring process. If you are an applicant with a criminal history, you are not alone--one in three American adults has a record. There are many state and local laws that protect you from discrimination in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. Know your rights as a job applicant, and learn more about how you can clear your criminal record.
Your Rights When You’re Applying for a Job with a Criminal Record
The Fair Criminal Records Screening Standards Ordinance (“Ban the Box”) helps ensure that employers make hiring and other employment decisions based on work qualifications instead of a person’s criminal record.
Under the ordinance, it is against the law for employers to
ask about your criminal record during the job application process
run your background check until after they give you a conditional offer
consider criminal convictions on your record, unless they happened less than 7 years ago (not counting incarceration time) AND the conviction makes you an “unacceptable risk” to the business or other people
consider arrests that didn’t lead to convictions
If you are rejected for a job based on your criminal record, you have a right to a copy of your background check report and 10 days to explain why the conviction shouldn’t be a barrier to being hired.
If an employer gets your background check report from a company in the business of running background checks (also known as a “credit reporting agency”), the employer must follow the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which gives you the right to advance written notice:
that the employer is going to obtain your credit report
if information in your file will be used against you
In some fields, such as childcare, there are laws that restrict people with certain convictions from certain job positions or occupational licenses. But even employers in these industries can’t reject an individual just because their criminal record isn’t “clean.”