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Crime, law & justice

File a complaint about criminal record discrimination in employment

It is illegal in Philadelphia for employers to ask about criminal backgrounds during the job application process. The Fair Criminal Records Screening Standards (or Fair Chance Hiring law) help ensure that employers initially make hiring and other employment decisions based on work qualifications, without considering a person’s criminal record.

If you believe an employer violated this law, you can file a complaint with the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations.

Requirements of the Fair Chance Hiring law

The Fair Chance Hiring law applies to employers with one or more employees (with some exceptions). It prohibits questions about criminal records on job applications.

Screening applicants

After making a conditional offer of employment, employers may run a criminal background check on the applicant. Employers must screen applicants individually by considering:

  • The type of offense and how much time has passed since it occurred.
  • The applicant’s job history.
  • Duties of the job being sought.
  • Character or employment references.
  • Evidence of rehabilitation.

Employers may consider criminal convictions within seven years of the date of application (not including times of incarceration). They may not ask about arrests or criminal accusations that did not lead to conviction.

Rejecting applicants

An employer may only reject an applicant based on a criminal record if they conclude that the person would be an unacceptable risk to the business or other people.

When rejecting an applicant, employers must notify them in writing with the reason. The employer must provide the criminal history report and allow 10 days for the applicant to respond.

How to make a complaint

Submit your complaint by mail or in person.

You must submit your complaint to:

Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations
The Curtis Center
601 Walnut St., Suite 300 South
Philadelphia, PA 19106

PCHR staff will review your intake form and meet with you about filing a complaint.

Forms & instructions