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Philadelphia Amends and Expands Background Screening Ordinances

January 28th, 2021
Background Check

For many years, Philadelphia has maintained ordinances that restrict employers’ use of criminal records and credit history in employment screenings. These regulations are in addition to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Pennsylvania’s state-wide Criminal History Record Information Act (CHRIA). The FCRA governs the use of ordering background reports while the CHRIA restricts the use of criminal records whether or not it shows up in a criminal background report.

On January 20, 2021, Mayor Jim Kenny signed three bills amending the current Philadelphia Fair Criminal Record Screening Standards (FCRSS) and credit ban ordinances. The bills will expand coverage, eliminate exceptions, and change certain procedures required by the ordinances. These amendments will be effective March 21, 2021 and April 1, 2021.

Expansion of FCRSS

Bill No. 200479 will expand the FCRSS current definition of covered “employee” to “any person employed or permitted to work at or for a Private Employer within the geographic boundaries of the City, including as an independent contractor, transportation network company driver, rideshare driver, or other gig economy worker.” This bill will also expand the current definition of “private employer” to “any third-party person or entity that facilitates the relationship of work for pay between two other parties, as full-time or part-time employees or as independent contractors.” These amendments will cause a substantial shift in contractor screening practices for specific companies because the Criminal History Record Information Act only applies to applicants of employment.

Expansion of FCRSS to Current Employees

Before the amendments were passed, the FCRSS’s restrictions on use of criminal convictions in employment decisions only applied to applicants for employment. The new amendments will specify that all restrictions and procedural requirements must also apply to current employees.

In addition to the above changes, Bill No. 200413 will remove the ban on employment credit screening only if one of the other exceptions in the credit ban ordinance applies, such as a situation where the applicant or employees credit information must be obtained in accordance with state or federal laws.

There has been many new amendments and changes to employment practices over the past few months. The new changes to employment screening are only a small part of the ongoing changes. If you are an employer in Philadelphia, it is important that you continue to monitor the changes and ensure that your company is complying with Philadelphia’s many new rules. Gig economy companies and businesses with independent contractors need to continue to comply with the FCRSS’s individualized assessments and “fair chance” requirements.

For more information on the new amendments to Philadelphia’s background screening ordinances, click here.

Background screenings and employment regulations are constantly changing. If you feel as though your right to employment has been illegally denied or if your background has caused an issue with your employment status, contact the Philadelphia discrimination employment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates for legal help. Our dedicated team of lawyers understand the new employment amendments and will ensure that your rights are protected. Call us today at 215-569-1999 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients throughout South Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania, including Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County.

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