ABOVE PHOTO: Mayor Nutter signs the “Ban The Box” ordinance in City Hall last week prohibiting the disclosure of criminal backgrounds until an applicant’s first employment interview. Among those cheering the groundbreaking legislation are Phila. NAACP Branch President J. Whyatt Mondesire, Donald “Ducky” Birts, National NAACP President/CEO Benjamin Jealous, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller and (partially shown) Councilman Curtis Jones.
(Photo by Robert Mendelsohn)
Mayor Michael A. Nutter, with the attendance of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous, signed an ordinance that will prohibit employers from requiring job applicants to disclose their criminal backgrounds until after the first employment interview.
After a first interview, employers may perform a background check or request the disclosure of an applicant’s criminal history. The legislation was sponsored by Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller. This legislation aims to prevent discrimination against job applicants with a criminal background by employers before an interview. Philadelphia is the first city in the Commonwealth to enact this legislation for both public and private employers.
“It is already difficult for ex-offenders to get their foot in the door and obtain employment following incarceration. This bill makes it a little easier to be considered for a job without harmful preconceptions by an employer before the first interview,” said Mayor Nutter. “Making available viable public and private sector employment options for ex-offenders contributes to the overall safety and quality of life in Philadelphia. Everyone deserves the chance to work and to provide for their families.”
“The City of Brotherly Love believes in second chances,” stated Jealous. “Formerly incarcerated people in Philadelphia will now be given a second chance at success. This bill will help the city build strong, stable communities. People hired as a result of this policy will be able to contribute to society as workers and as taxpayers. They will be able to reunite with children sent to foster care, and remain by their side. The city that took in Michael Vick has once again shown it believes in the power of redemption.”
The ordinance’s sponsor, Councilwoman Miller, said “I am delighted that Council passed and the Mayor signed this historic legislation. This ordinance will ensure that those with criminal histories have the opportunity to apply for jobs in Philadelphia without discrimination, and it has the potential of positively impacting thousands of lives.”
“This historic legislation is one more tool the City is utilizing to re-integrate ex-offenders back into the workforce in both the private and public sectors. Everyone deserves the opportunity to hold and maintain a steady job, especially those who have already paid their debts to society,” said Deputy Mayor Gillison.
The ordinance prohibits City agencies and private employers from knowingly inquiring about criminal backgrounds and arrests on the application for a position. Following an initial interview with the prospective employee, the employer may perform a background check. If an employer does not conduct an interview, no inquiry can be made into the applicant’s criminal history.