On Dec. 15, 2015, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter amended the city’s current “ban the box” law to expand the number of employers it covers and increase restrictions on the use of criminal background checks during the hiring process. The amendments take effect in just 90 days and make several noteworthy changes to the city’s original Fair Criminal Screening Standards Ordinance enacted in 2012.

Among the amendment’s most important changes are additional restrictions on when and how an employer may consider a potential employee’s criminal convictions upon application for employment. The amendment also expands the ordinance’s application to all private employers in Philadelphia regardless of the number of employees, and prohibits policies that “automatically exclude[] any applicant with a criminal conviction from a job or class of jobs.” Instead, employers may reject an applicant based on his or her criminal record only when “such record includes conviction for an offense that bears such relationship to the employment sought that the employer may reasonably conclude that the applicant would present an unacceptable risk to the operation of the business or to co-workers or customers, and that exclusion of the applicant is compelled by business necessity.”

This requirement that a connection exist between the applicant’s offense for which he or she was convicted and the specific job sought should be familiar to Philadelphia employers. Pennsylvania state law already prohibits employers from using “criminal history record information” in deciding whether to hire an applicant unless the applicant has a record of a felony or misdemeanor conviction and that conviction “relate[s] to the applicant’s suitability for employment in the position for which he [or she] has applied.” 18 Pa. C.S. § 9125.

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Photo of Christiana L. Signs Christiana L. Signs

Ms. Signs’ practice concerns complex employment matters, focusing primarily on class and collective wage and hour, discrimination and Fair Credit Reporting Act litigation. She has experience pursuing appellate issues related to employment-related class and collective action litigation, having co-authored several principle and amicus…

Ms. Signs’ practice concerns complex employment matters, focusing primarily on class and collective wage and hour, discrimination and Fair Credit Reporting Act litigation. She has experience pursuing appellate issues related to employment-related class and collective action litigation, having co-authored several principle and amicus briefs in cutting-edge class action employment cases. Ms. Signs routinely advises employers on an array of labor and employment compliance matters. Those include Fair Credit Reporting Act and state background check issues; best practices vis-à-vis employment dispute resolution programs; and drafting, enforcing and negotiating restrictive covenants. A member of the firmwide Business Continuity Amid COVID-19 Team, she advises her clients regarding telecommuting and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Photo of Kelly Dobbs Bunting Kelly Dobbs Bunting

Kelly Bunting is Co-Chair of the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice’s Workforce Compliance & Regulatory Enforcement group. She litigates federal and state class and collective actions alleging wage and hour violations, misclassification, overtime, minimum wage and off-the-clock work. She also defends employers around

Kelly Bunting is Co-Chair of the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice’s Workforce Compliance & Regulatory Enforcement group. She litigates federal and state class and collective actions alleging wage and hour violations, misclassification, overtime, minimum wage and off-the-clock work. She also defends employers around the country in single plaintiff litigation involving gender, age, disability, race, national origin, religious and pregnancy discrimination, harassment and retaliation; whistleblower claims; theft of trade secrets; breach of duty; breach of employment agreements and restrictive covenants. Kelly has appeared before the EEOC, the NLRB, the DOL and many state agencies. She drafts and negotiates national and international employment agreements, secondment agreements, settlement and severance agreements. She has represented employers in numerous U.S. Department of Labor audits and investigations, and has conducted labor and employment due diligence in many M&A transactions.

Kelly advises multinational clients on workplace policies, best practices, internal investigations, cross-border issues and employment-related FCPA/anti-corruption law compliance. She is a founding member of the Global Workforce Solutions group, and has spoken on U.S. and international L&E topics around the world. In 2018, Kelly was listed in Who’s Who in Labour & Employment Law. In 2014, 2015 and 2016, Kelly was ranked as “Recommended” by The Legal 500 United States for her work in Labor and Employment: Workplace and Employment Counseling and is a member of Philadelphia’s first-tier ranked Labor & Employment Practice by U.S. News-Best Lawyers.