If you have been convicted of a crime, your criminal record can make it difficult to secure employment. An experienced attorney can help clean up your criminal record so it is as appealing to potential employers as possible. In addition, Governor Tom Wolf is also making it easier to secure employment with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Starting July 1, applicants for non-civil service positions will not have to fill out a criminal conviction box on their job applications.

Ban the Box

With this new policy, Pennsylvania joins about twenty other states in a movement to “ban the box”. The movement seeks to hire and support the formerly incarcerated by removing criminal conviction questions from job applications.  Proponents of such policies argue that applicants should be judged on their work skills – not their criminal history.

Some notable achievements in the Ban the Box movement: 

  • In 2015, New York City enacted the Fair Chance Act, making it illegal for employers to ask job applicants about their criminal records until after a job offer has been made. If an employer chooses to revoke an employment offer based upon the applicant’s criminal history, they must do so with an approved legal notice, and give the applicant a chance to respond. 
  • In November 2015, then-President Obama instructed the Office of Personnel Management to modify its rules to delay inquiries into criminal history until later in the hiring process. This measure allowed those with prior criminal histories to have more fair opportunities to access federal employment.
  • In December 2016, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed legislation requiring employers to remove questions about past criminal convictions from job applications and to delay conviction inquiries until an offer of employment is made. 
  • In early 2017, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb banned conviction questions on state employment applications. Holcomb also signed a state bill banning local “ban the box ordinances”, in an attempt to enact uniform rules across Indiana. The laws take effect on July 1, 2017.

Why Not Ban the Box?

The goal of “banning the box” is to give applicants with criminal histories a chance to make it past the initial phases of the hiring process. Unfortunately, these laws may not be having their intended effect. NPR reports on a study done in New Jersey and New York City which showed racial bias in hiring. The racial bias actually increased after “ban the box” laws were passed in those jurisdictions. Researchers found that employers who could not ask about criminal histories were more likely to simply infer criminal histories, based upon the perceived race of the applicant.

Contact an Experienced Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Attorney Brian Zeiger will advocate for you in all matters related to criminal records and employment. A criminal history can prevent you from gaining employment, and it is important to seek advice from an experienced attorney before that happens or if you would like to seek an expungement. Call the Zeiger Firm at (215) 546-0340 today to schedule your consultation. Our staff provides the personalized service necessary to advocate for your rights.

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