philadelphia law firm helping people denied employment Because of a Criminal Background Check serving pennsylvania and new jersey

With so much information at our fingertips today, many employers are taking advantage of this information and are screening applicants’ criminal histories before making hiring decisions. While this step is helpful and often necessary in hiring, employers must comply with specific timelines and uses for the information they obtain in a criminal background check.

If you believe that you have been denied employment because of a criminal background check, it is vital to contact an employment attorney who can determine your rights and remedies.

Pennsylvania Criminal History Record Information Act

The Pennsylvania Criminal History Record Information Act (CHRIA) governs how an employer may use criminal history information in hiring employees. CHRIA permits an employer to consider an applicant’s felony or misdemeanor convictions to the extent they relate to the applicant’s suitability for the position. This may seem like broad leeway for employers, but increasing litigation under CHRIA suggests that it might not be as broad a use as previously thought. If an employer does not hire an applicant because of the criminal history (in full or in part), the employer must notify the applicant in writing.

Philadelphia’s Ban the Box Ordinance

Philadelphia’s Ban the Box Ordinance, also known as the Fair Criminal Record Screening Standards Ordinance, governs when an employer in Philadelphia can ask about an applicant’s criminal history and for what the employer may use the information. Philadelphia’s Ban the Box Ordinance applies to employers of any size.

To ensure hiring decisions are based on an applicant’s qualifications rather than the stigma of a criminal record, Employers are not allowed to ask about criminal background during the application process. Once an employer makes a conditional offer of employment to an applicant, the employer can run a background check. An employer may only consider a criminal conviction that occurred less than 7 years from the application date. If an applicant’s criminal record makes him/her an unacceptable risk for the business or to other people, the employer may rescind the conditional offer of employment. The employer must communicate its decision to the applicant in writing and provide a copy of the criminal background report to the applicant. The applicant then has 10 days to contest the background check or to provide the employer with an explanation of the criminal background if the applicant wishes to show the employer he/she is not an unacceptable risk.

New Jersey Opportunity to Compete Act

The New Jersey Opportunity to Compete Act prohibits New Jersey employers with 15 or more employees from advertising in job listings that those with a criminal record will not be considered, and asking applicants in applications or any part of the initial application process about their criminal record. After the employer interviews the applicant, the employer may ask about, or seek out, information about the applicant’s criminal history. An employer can then decide not to hire the applicant based on an arrest or conviction record, assuming the arrest or conviction has not been expunged or pardoned.

There are some exceptions to this law that allow earlier background checks based on the sensitive nature of the position (e.g., law enforcement).

I have been denied employment. What do I do?

There are strict deadlines for filing claims under these that vary by the circumstances of your situation and the state in which you reside.

If you have been denied employment because of a criminal background check, contact employment lawyer Stephanie J. Mensing of Mensing Law LLC at (215) 586-3751. Ms. Mensing in an employment attorney with extensive experience handling employment cases in the state and federal courts in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Schedule a consultation today to ensure that your rights are protected.