With background checks becoming a regular part of the employment practice, many Pennsylvanians may be concerned that their past criminal records affect employment: either their current or future job prospects. For Pennsylvania citizens who are searching for a job, there is the worry that even a minor past record could affect their ability to obtain employment. And for those who already have a position, there is the fear that a past criminal record may be used against them by a current employer. So how do criminal records affect employment?
No matter your current employment status, even a minor record could come back to haunt you. In a job market already plagued with uncertainty, this is a troubling thought. However, if you or someone you know find yourself worrying about being hired or fired due to a past criminal record, you do have legal options.
Criminal Records Affect Employment Hiring Decisions
In the state of Pennsylvania, criminal records are governed by the Criminal History Records Information Act. This Act prohibits employers from discriminating in hiring decisions on the basis of a past criminal record. Under the Criminal History Records Information Act, unless your past criminal record would affect your ability to perform the job requirements, the employer is not able to use that information in deciding whether to hire you.
Even so, if the employer determines that your record will affect your ability to successfully do a job, the employer must notify you of this in writing. If an employer does not tell you that this was the reason for passing over your application and you believe that it was, you may be able to bring a claim under the Criminal History Records Information Act.
Pennsylvania Criminal Records & Firing Decisions
It is important to note that the Criminal History Records Information Act only applies to hiring decisions. This means that if you have been terminated by your employer after the employer conducted a background check, you are not able to bring a claim under this Act. Thus, your legal options will differ slightly depending on if you are concerned about being hired due to a past criminal record or being terminated. But this does not mean that you do not still have legal options.
In Pennsylvania, depending on how old your criminal records are, it could be possible to bring a claim for wrongful termination against your former employer. The courts have held that Pennsylvania criminal records past seven years old can no longer be used to determine whether an employee is fit for a position. In Pennsylvania, old records are of little value in these decisions. Courts have even found that using these records in this way is against the public policy of the Commonwealth.
Instead, in determining whether to fire an employee, the employer must consider “recent trustworthiness.” This means that if you have been working at a job for a while and have otherwise done a good job, this evidence will work in your favor.
Your employer cannot fire you for your criminal record alone in this situation. Your employer is required to look at your trustworthiness as a whole, and then make a decision. If you believe that your employer fired you after conducting a background check, you can bring a wrongful termination claim. See this link for more information on how you can recover by suing for wrongful termination.
We Can Help!
If you or someone you know has been fired or passed over for a job due to a past Pennsylvania criminal record, do not hesitate to act. The Law Firm of Fenters Ward’s experienced employment law attorneys are here to help. Call our law firm at 877-259-WARD or visit www.fentersward.com. Let us win your next fight.
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