Restrictions on the permissible use of credit checks and criminal history is not new to the City of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. However, Philadelphia recently updated both its credit history and criminal history ordinances.
Bill 200413 updates the City’s credit history ordinance, known as the “Fair Practices Ordinance and found Chapter 9-100 of the Philadelphia Code. The ordinance, which seeks to prevent discrimination against applicants and employees who have negative credit history, restricts the use of credit checks as well as credit-related information in the employment process, including hiring, promotion, tenure, discipline, or discharge.
Bill 200413 updates the list of covered employers who cannot consider negative credit history, adding law enforcement agencies and financial institutions, such as banks, credit unions, and insurance companies. With this update, financial institutions and law enforcement agencies can no longer use credit information when making employment decisions. “Credit information” includes information related to an applicant or employee’s credit history, such as debt, worthiness, standing, capacity, and score. It also includes bank account balances and related information, charged-off debts, payment history, and bankruptcies, judgments, liens, or debt under collection. The Philadelphia mayor signed Bill 200413 on January 20, 2021 and it becomes effective on March 21, 2021.
Philadelphia also amended its criminal history ordinance known as the Fair Criminal Record Screening Standards (“FCRSS”). Bill 200479 expands on the definition of “employee” under the FCRSS and now includes independent contractors, transportation network company drivers, rideshare drivers, and other gig economy workers. The definition of “private employer” has also been updated to include any third party that “facilitates the relationship of work for pay between two other parties, as full-time or part-time employees or as independent contractors.” This update is significant because it forces private employers in Philadelphia to review their use of criminal history when screening independent contractors. Additionally, the protections under the FCRSS now apply to current employees. Philadelphia employers should also be aware that the amendment also updates the damages available to plaintiffs, now including liquidated damages. Bill 200479 becomes effective on April 1, 2021.
Employers impacted by these updated ordinances should review their policies with counsel to determine how they impact their hiring and retention programs going forward. If you would like AccuSource to provide a complimentary review of your current background screening compliance program, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.