Pennsylvania State Flag

Pennsylvania Background Check Laws

Capital Harrisburg Population 12,784,227
Largest city Philadelphia
Area 46,055 sq mi
Criminal rate 32 crimes /10,000 people Time Zone UTC −5/−4

Pennsylvania State Flag

Pennsylvania Drug Screen Compliance

Pennsylvania Employment Screening laws

Employers that are either located in Pennsylvania or hiring Pennsylvania residents must abide by the Federal FCRA, and applicable Pennsylvania state employment laws.

This page was created to provide a simple explanation of what an end-user of a background screening report (also known as consumer report) can use in order to be in compliance with Pennsylvania state laws. This page also contains steps an end-user must take to stay in compliance with Pennsylvania state laws.

Please keep in mind that the EEOC must always be taken into consideration when a hiring decision is to be made. The EEOC has provided guidance on how employers can use criminal records during the hiring process. This regulation was issued on April 25, 2012. The EEOC requires employers to individually review each applicant or employee that may be disqualified due to a criminal record. This also follows the regulations set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Additionally, the EEOC wants to undertake an adverse action process similar to that of the FCRA. They want to add a pre-adverse action process of their own. Although employers already have an adverse action process that is specific to information contained in consumer reports, the EEOC's adverse action process may be different.

The information that is provided on this page does not discuss requirements under the EEOC nor does it explain how to use criminal records that fall under the regulation of the EEOC. It is suggested that compliance with the EEOC be discussed with legal counsel.

For more detailed information on Pennsylvania state laws, please consult your legal counsel.

Background Check Law Ban the Box Law Court Fee Court Cases

Employment Background Check Laws In Pennsylvania:

Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes §18-9125: Use of records for employment.

        (a)  General rule.--Whenever an employer is in receipt of
     information which is part of an employment applicant's criminal
     history record information file, it may use that information for
     the purpose of deciding whether or not to hire the applicant,
     only in accordance with this section.
        (b)  Use of information.--Felony and misdemeanor convictions
     may be considered by the employer only to the extent to which
     they relate to the applicant's suitability for employment in the
     position for which he has applied.
        (c)  Notice.--The employer shall notify in writing the
     applicant if the decision not to hire the applicant is based in
     whole or in part on criminal history record information.

Ninja's summary

Employers making a hiring decision may only consider felony and/or misdemeanor convictions if they substantially relate to the suitability of employment. If an adverse decision is made due to a past conviction, the employer must notify the applicant.

Philadelphia Codes §9-3500 to §9-3509: Fair Criminal Screening Standards.

A copy of the City of Philadelphia’s Fair Criminal Records Screening Standards (Philadelphia Code Sections 9-3500 to 9-3509) can be found at-

http://www.phila.gov/HumanRelations/PDF/BanTheBoxOrdinance.pdf

Ninja's summary

Employers that are located within the City of Philadelphia must adhere to certain regulations regarding the use of criminal history for purposes of making employment decisions. Most notably, employers may not make a hiring decision based on arrests or charges that did not result in a conviction. Additionally, employers may not inquire into an applicant’s criminal history during the initial stage of the employment process. Questions regarding criminal history may not be on the employment application form. Inquiries into criminal history can only be made after the candidate has been offered a conditional offer for employment.

Philadelphia Code §9-1100: The Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance, Prohibitions Against Unlawful Discrimination.

A copy of the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance, Prohibitions Against Unlawful Discrimination (Philadelphia Code Sections 9-1100 to 9-1130) can be found at-

http://www.phila.gov/HumanRelations/PDF/FPO%20Ch9-1100%20-9-2016_%20nc.pdf

Ninja's summary

Employers are prohibited from obtaining and using credit history information in order to make decisions regarding the following: hiring, promoting, discharge, tenure, discipline, or conditions of employment. Exceptions exist under §9-1130.

If an applicant’s credit history information is obtained using an exception listed in §9-1130, and an adverse decision was made against the applicant due to the credit information, the employer must inform the applicant of the particular piece of information that was used in their decision and allow the applicant an opportunity to explain the circumstances regarding the information at issue.

Update: Feb 2018

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA):

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a set of federal guidelines that helps regulate hiring practices. The FCRA was created to ensure privacy, accuracy, and fairness of consumer information. The FCRA accomplishes this by having a set standard for collecting, disseminating, and using consumer information.

Employers obtaining consumer reports for background screening purposes must follow specific procedures. For example, employers must disclose to the candidate what the background screening is, what information it includes, and how they intend to use it. They must obtain the written consent of the candidate before obtaining a background screening. They may not misuse the information contained in the background screening. There are also strict procedures an employer must follow should they decide not to hire a potential candidate based on the information in the background screening.

The purpose of the FCRA is to help protect employers, employees, and potential job candidates.

Disclaimer

This material is time sensitive. Contact us for updates. This information is subject to frequent change through legislative and court action.

All materials in this page and accompanying information are for general educational purposes and not intended to provide legal, scientific or medical advice. Consult with an appropriate professional to address specific issues.

Philadelphia Ban the Box

Employers may not inquire into an applicant’s criminal history during the initial stage of the employment process. Questions regarding criminal history may not be on the employment application form. Inquiries into criminal history can only be made after the candidate has been offered a conditional offer for employment.

 

A copy of the City of Philadelphia’s Fair Criminal Records Screening Standards (Philadelphia Code Sections 9-3500 to 9-3509) can be found at- http://www.phila.gov/HumanRelations/PDF/BanTheBoxOrdinance.pdf


Update: Feb 2018

Disclaimer

This material is time sensitive. Contact us for updates. This information is subject to frequent change through legislative and court action.

All materials in this page and accompanying information are for general educational purposes and not intended to provide legal, scientific or medical advice. Consult with an appropriate professional to address specific issues.

County: Court Fee:
Adams $0.00
Allegheny $0.00
Armstrong $0.00
Beaver $0.00
Bedford $0.00
Berks $0.00
Blair $0.00
Bradford $0.00
Bucks $0.00
Butler $0.00
Cambria $0.00
Cameron $0.00
Carbon $0.00
Centre $0.00
Chester $0.00
Clarion $0.00
Clearfield $0.00
Clinton $0.00
Columbia $0.00
Crawford $0.00
Cumberland $0.00
Dauphin $0.00
Delaware $0.00
Elk $0.00
Erie $0.00
Fayette $0.00
Forest $0.00
Franklin $0.00
Fulton $0.00
Greene $0.00
Huntingdon $0.00
Indiana $0.00
Jefferson $0.00
Juniata $0.00
Lackawanna $0.00
Lancaster $0.00
Lawrence $0.00
Lebanon $0.00
Lehigh $0.00
Luzerne $0.00
Lycoming $0.00
Mckean $0.00
Mercer $0.00
Mifflin $0.00
Monroe $0.00
Montgomery $0.00
Montour $0.00
Northampton $0.00
Northumberland $0.00
Perry $0.00
Philadelphia $0.00
Pike $0.00
Potter $0.00
Schuylkill $0.00
Snyder $0.00
Somerset $0.00
Sullivan $0.00
Susquehanna $0.00
Tioga $0.00
Union $0.00
Venango $0.00
Warren $0.00
Washington $0.00
Wayne $0.00
Western District $0.00
Westmoreland $0.00
Wyoming $0.00
York $0.00
KEY COURT DECISIONS
Court Case Issue Outcome Employer Limitation/ Action

Ramos v. Genesis Healthcare, LLC (2015)

Does the intention to take adverse action against an applicant equate to actually taking adverse action against the applicant? No, the Court held that “a preliminary decision to take adverse action does not trigger the FCRA’s notice obligation.” The Court further notes that “adverse action does not occur until the decision is communicated or takes effect.”

The Court found in favor of Genesis Healthcare. Ramos had applied for a position with Gensis Healthcare and received a conditional offer of employment pending a background screening. The background screening revealed criminal history that did not comply with Genesis’ hiring standards. The adverse action process was followed, and Ramos was allowed to dispute inaccurate information and was eligible for hire pending the outcome of the reinvestigation. Genesis presented undisputed evidence that they took into consideration Ramos’ information about her criminal record. Genesis ultimately made the final decision after Ramos had the opportunity to explain any negative findings and dispute any inaccuracies.

This is a good example of how Courts will view an employer’s decision favorably if their procedures strictly adhere to the FCRA. Genesis Healthcare had procedures in place for taking proper adverse action, and when reviewed by the Court, the Court agreed. The Court noted that an employer “is entitled to make an internal determination of “intent” to revoke the employment offer so long as it affords [the applicant] a real opportunity to challenge this internal determination. All of the evidence confirms [the applicant] took advantage of the opportunity and [the employer] evaluated her challenge, discussed it internally and only then reached a final decision. Accordingly, the pre-adverse action notice complied with the FCRA.”

Lopez v. Edge Information Management

Plaintiff alleges that Edge Information Management does not comply with the FCRA’s requirement of following reasonable procedures to ensure maximum possible accuracy. Lopez was denied employment at AutoZone due to inaccuracies on his background screening report prepared by Edge. Edge disclaimed all the information was not accurate, but took no steps to verify other identifiers beyond name.

Case Pending. Lopes is the lead plaintiff for this class action lawsuit.

Employers must follow proper adverse action procedures, and CRAs must follow strict procedures to ensure maximum possible accuracy.

Abel v. Big Lots Stores, Inc

Plaintiff claims that the Big Lots Stores consent form that he signed for the procurement of a background screening report violated the FCRA because it did not consist solely of the disclosure and did not properly inform him a background screening would be performed. This form also contained the extraneous statment “that all employment decisions are based on legitimate non-discriminatory reasons.”

Certified Class Action. Abel is the lead plaintiff in this class action lawsuit.

Employers must ensure that their disclosure form consists solely of the disclosure as required by the FCRA. No extraneous information such as language amounting to a liability waiver is allowed to be present on the disclosure form

Noye v. Johnson & Johnson, Kelly Services

Plaintiff claims that Johnson & Johnson did not hire him because of inaccuracies within his background screening report. Summary offenses were inaccurately labeled misdemeanors. Furthermore, Johnson & Johnson did not obtain the plaintiff’s consent before using the background screening in their employment decision.

Certified Class Action. Noye is the lead plaintiff in this class action lawsuit. Johnson & Johnson moved to compel arbitration, but the Court denied this motion.

Employers using Staffing agencies must still ensure that they comply with the disclosure/authorization and adverse action procedures as required by the FCRA. Although the Staffing agency may have their own procedures complying with the FCRA, this does not preclude the employer from adhering to this standard themselves.

Halbert v. Penn National Gaming

Plaintiff claims that Penn National Gaming violates consumer privacy laws by failing to make proper disclosures when it pulls the credit reports of employees and applicants. Plaintiff claims Penn National Gaming violated the FCRA by pulling credit reports of employees and prospective employees without first providing a clear notice in writing so the individuals can give consent and remedy any issues they may have with their report.

Dismissed.

Employers must ensure they follow strict procedures complying with the FCRA’s requirements for disclosure and authorization as well as adverse action.

Long v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)

Plaintiffs claim that they completed forms disclosing prior drug-related convictions and authorizing SEPTA to conduct background checks, but that the forms did not comply with the FCRA’s stand-alone disclosure requirement. Plaintiffs allege that the forms contained extraneous language, including language inquiring about their educational history, employment history, probation or parole status, and job suitability.

Dismissed. Court held that Plaintiffs did not suffer any concrete injury in fact.

Employers must ensure they follow strict procedures complying with the FCRA’s requirements for disclosure and authorization.

Wright v. Lincoln Property Company

When does the adverse action process need to take place? Employer sent out adverse action while the report was still in progress, and did not send out adverse action once the final report was completed. Plaintiff brought suit against the employer for not following correct adverse action procedures.

Case Pending.

The adverse action process should be initiated once the employer has received the completed screening report. If the adverse action process was initiated while the report was still in a progress, a SECOND adverse action process must be followed upon completion of the report in its entirety (for example, this would mean at least four notification letters sent).

TO PAGETOP