Thursday, May 5, 2011

Check The Box...

Employers beware!

The City of Philadelphia has adopted a new trend in employment law.  The City's "Check the Box" rule, in essence, provides that an employer cannot inquire whether a prospective employee has ever been convicted of a crime. 

About one in four adults, or 65 million people across the country, has a criminal record, which can often make it difficult for those who are also unemployed to find a job, as many Philadelphia residents can imagine.

A recent report from the National Employment Law Center showed that many employers, including large companies such as Domino's Pizza or Bank of America, will announce job openings that often exclude applicants with a criminal record. One employment ad from Bank of America, for instance, states "candidates must be able to pass: background check (no felonies or misdemeanors)."

Another study conducted last year revealed 92 percent of employers may dismiss some or sometimes all applicants who have a criminal conviction. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, jobseekers in Philly are even required to check a box on job applications when asked whether they have been arrested or convicted for a crime.

However, the City Council is seeking to pass a "ban the box" ordinance that will remove the box from both online and paper job applications. Employers would also be prohibited from asking candidates about their criminal history until after their first interview, which is when they are allowed to run any background checks and ask any questions related to the applicant's criminal record.

"[The ordinance] requires the employer to give candidates the opportunity to be judged strictly on their merits during the application and the first interview ..." explained William Nesheiwat, the director of legislation for City Council member Donna Reed Miller, who sponsors the measure. "Our goal is to create something that helps the individual with a record but does not hurt businesses and their clients."

Criminal Records May Prevent Jobseekers From Finding A Job  By Erline Aguiluz

Seemingly with the passage of that ordinance, the City Council and Mayor added one more thing for employers to be concerned with when trying to locate a competent & productive new hire.

Those employers concerned about hiring ex-cons - like a bank, security company or anyone that needs to bond their employees - can take solace that the ordinance allows you to ask that same question after the first interview.

Interesting law which intended to help ex-cons secure employment but will likely result in a lot of wasted employer time.  Hopefully the trend, in its current state, will not continue.

What do you think?

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