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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: April 12, 2017 10:18 AM
From: Senator Vincent J. Hughes
To: All Senate members
Subject: "Ban-the-Box" Legislation
In the near future I will be reintroducing Senate Bill 431 from last session. This legislation is commonly referred to as “Ban-the-Box.”

My legislation will prohibit both public and private employers and employment agencies from inquiring about or into, considering, or requiring disclosure of the criminal record or criminal history of an applicant until the applicant has been determined qualified for the position and notified that the applicant has been selected for an interview by the employer or employment agency or, if there is not an interview, until after a conditional offer of employment is made to the applicant by the employer or employment agency.

According to the National Employment Law Project, approximately 25 states have adopted policies outlawing the practice of pre-screening individuals based on criminal records. Twelve states have passed legislation to ban-the-box since 2015. In addition, numerous local governments across the nation have adopted similar policies.

Removing the criminal history question from the job application and delaying inquiry into the issue until later in the hiring process will create an even playing field for those who may have a criminal record but are not given a chance to compete for employment because they have been pre-screened by the employer. Importantly, the legislation would not prohibit an employer from conducting a background check after the requirements of the law have been met. In addition, employers would be permitted to advise potential applicants of specific offenses that will disqualify an applicant from employment in a particular position due to federal or state law or the employer's policy.

Finding employment is one of many challenges ex offenders face. The stigma associated with a criminal record in many cases closes doors and limits opportunities for obtaining gainful employment post-conviction. Eliminating the practice of pre-screening based solely on the basis of a criminal record will assist ex offenders in moving past their criminal history by maximizing job opportunities while, at the same time, giving employers in this Commonwealth access to a broader pool of qualified applicants. I firmly believe this is sound public policy from both an economic perspective and a social justice perspective.

Previous cosponsors of this legislation include: Fontana, Greenleaf, Leach, Schwank, Tartaglione and Williams.

I hope you will join me in co-sponsoring this legislation. If you have any questions, please contact my Chief Counsel, Michael Deery, at 7-7112 or mdeery@pasenate.com at your convenience.

Introduced as SB842