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Do you or does someone you know have a criminal record? The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR) is raising awareness about the City’s Fair Chance Hiring law. The law, previously known as “Ban the Box,” ensures that people with criminal records have a fair chance to get a job in Philadelphia.

According to the National Employment Law Project, an estimated 70 million U.S. adults – nearly 1 in 3 Americans, have a criminal record of arrests or convictions that hinder their job opportunities despite their skills and qualifications.

What does the Fair Chance Hiring law do?

It is illegal in Philadelphia for employers to ask about your criminal background on job applications or during a job interview.

Employers can run your criminal background check only after they give you a conditional offer of employment. A conditional offer means they are offering you the job depending on certain results of your criminal background check.

What criminal record information can employers consider when hiring?

If you have a criminal record, employers must limit how they use the information.

  • Criminal convictions can be considered in hiring decisions only if they occurred less than 7 years from when you apply (that does not include the time you were in jail).
  • Arrests that did not lead to conviction cannot be used in employment decisions.

If your background check reveals a conviction, the employer must consider:

  1. the type of offense
  2. how much time has passed since it occurred
  3. how the conviction is connected to the job you’re applying for
  4. your job history
  5. character references and any evidence of rehabilitation (for example: volunteer service, completing probation, or earning a G.E.D.)

Employers can reject you based on your criminal record only if you pose an unacceptable risk to the business or to other people.

If I am rejected from a job, will the employer tell me why?

If you are rejected, the employer must notify you in writing and give you a copy of the background report used to make the decision.

What are my options if I am rejected because of my criminal history?

You have 10 days to give an explanation of your record in writing, proof that it is wrong, or proof of rehabilitation.

What is the Commission on Human Relations and how can the Commission help me?

The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations enforces the city’s civil rights laws and addresses conflicts sparked by bias. The PCHR protects residents and visitors from discriminatory practices in housing, property, employment and public accommodations.

Do you believe your rights were violated?

If you believe your rights have been violated and want to learn more about how to file a complaint please visit our website, call our office at 215-686-4670, or email pchr@phila.gov. You can find the form used to file a complaint here. The form can be emailed or faxed back to our office. You can also visit our office and staff will meet with you to discuss the information you provided.

Questions? Contact us.

Phone: (215) 686-4670
Fax: (215)  686-4684
Email: pchr@phila.gov

If you think you have been a victim of discrimination in Philadelphia, call our offices at 215-686-4670 or learn more here.