Starting tomorrow in Philadelphia, which is just a short drive from our office here in Horhsam, most employers will be barred from asking job candidates about their criminal history . . . but only until after the first interview.
According to the story on Philly.com:
The ordinance prohibits any business in the city that employs more than 10 people from asking job-seekers either on their application or during their first interview if they have any criminal convictions.
Courts, prisons and the Police Department are exempt from the law.
According to the story, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said last April when he signed the bill into law that its intent is to give ex-offenders a fair shot at being considered for jobs for which they’d otherwise be qualified.
More from the story:
The ordinance, introduced by former Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller, notes that one-fifth of Philadelphians have criminal records.
“It gets your foot in the door, but it doesn’t guarantee employment,” said Deputy Commerce Director Kevin Dow, who’s been reaching out to business leaders across the city to explain the new law.
Employers are allowed to perform background checks on applicants and ask whether they’ve been convicted of a crime once they get beyond the first interview, said Rue Landau, the executive director of the city’s Commission on Human Relations.
Employers who violate the law will at first receive a warning notice from the commission and be given 30 days to rectify their error.
Recalcitrant employers could face a $2,000 fine every time they violate “Ban the Box,” the story concludes.
One commenter on the story, steelmanpa, says the law is protecting the wrong people:
This [law] is so wrong. It is a waste of employers time and money in a cash strapped economy for the few that will hire. Its always about protecting the rights of the CONVICTED criminals, never the victims or the potential victims they prey upon . . .
But another commenter, thatbawl, takes a more literary view of the law:
This is a catch-22. I understand why people do not want to hire ex-cons but if they cannot get employment, won’t they just go back to committing more crimes? Everyone has to have a means to live.
While the spirit of this law is admirable, I admit my own skepticism about how effective it will be in ultimately getting more ex-cons back into the working world, given the dim view most of us hold about convicts.
So, will this law eventually be seen as a real first step in getting convicted criminals back into the workforce, or just another Band-Aid on a broken leg?
Only time will tell . . .