Employers are increasingly using criminal background checks as another tool in deciding whether to hire employment applicants. This can be a problem for an employee with a criminal background regardless of the nature of the crime or how much time has elapsed since it was committed.
In Pennsylvania, employers must abide by the Criminal History Record Information Act (CHRIA) in deciding whether to hire an applicant based on their criminal background. Employers are permitted to require a criminal background check but they can consider felony and misdemeanor convictions only if they relate to the applicant’s suitability for the job; convictions for summary offenses cannot be considered. So for example, a potential employee with a prior fraud conviction could be denied a job as a bank teller. It is important to note that the law applies only to convictions, arrests cannot be considered. Applicants denied a job based on their criminal history MUST be notified that they were denied employment based, at least in part, on their criminal history. There are certain jobs where CHRIA does not apply and is trumped by other laws. For example, sex offenders are not permitted to be employed in a positon where there is regular contact with children.
Denial of employment based on a criminal conviction is an extremely fact-specific situation. If you have been denied employment based on your criminal history, it is important that you speak with an employment lawyer who can assess the facts of your situation and help you determine whether you may have a case.