We update this overview of Pennsylvania background check laws and ban-the-box rules often. But laws change quickly, and we cannot guarantee all information is current. Always consult your attorney for legal advice.
In Pennsylvania, under 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. 9125, an employer, whether public or private, is only allowed to consider an applicant’s misdemeanor and/or felony convictions if they relate to their suitability of employment, and applicants must be informed, in writing, if the employer uses these past convictions in making a hiring decision. Although the law (18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. 9124) prohibits denial of licensure based on lesser “summary offenses,” it is silent on whether these offenses can be considered by an employer during hiring; the safest course of action being to exclude these from pre-employment consideration.
Per Phil. Code Chapter 9-1102, employers in Philadelphia are prohibited from requesting or using applicant or employee credit information when hiring, firing, granting tenure, promoting, disciplining, or setting conditions of employment, unless the position is exempt under Philadelphia’s Fair Practices Ordinance.
The Ordinance also limits the consideration of past convictions to those that occurred within the last seven years, from the date of disposition or release from confinement, whichever is later, and non-convictions may not be considered relative to employment practices.
The Philadelphia Ordinance outlines what factors must be considered by the employer when assessing the criminal record of the applicant. These are: (a) the nature of the offense; (b) the time that has passed since the offense; (c) the applicant’s employment history before and after the offense and any period of incarceration; (d) the particular duties of the job being sought; (e) any character or employment references provided by the applicant; and (f) any evidence of applicant’s rehabilitation since the conviction.
Restricts inquiries into the criminal history of an applicant until after a conditional job offer has been made.
An employer cannot ask whether an applicant is willing to submit to a background check prior to a conditional offer of employment.
As a result of the Federal Court case, Chamber of Commerce v. City of Philadelphia (Case No. 17-1548), Philadelphia employers can inquire about an applicant’s salary history, but are banned from using it to offer a lower salary. To avoid potential litigation, it would be safer for the employer not to have access to this salary information, even though it is permissible for a CRA to provide it.
Pittsburgh employers have additional background check restrictions, pursuant to Article XI, Chapter 181.13 of the Pittsburgh City Code.
Click here to read the full statute.
Note: This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult with your own legal counsel for advice related to your state/locality.