NEW! Updated Employee Screening Regulations - 05/04/2011

By: Tiffany Wesley

On Tuesday, May 3, 2011, new updates on regulations for employee screening policies were passed. These regulations were passed in Philadelphia and Maryland, and will be in effect by the end of the year.

Philadelphia On April 18, 2011, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed the Fair Criminal Record Screening Standards Ordinance into law. Beginning June 17, 2011, employers with 10 or more employees in the city of Philadelphia will no longer be allowed to ask a potential employee about criminal history on job applications or prior to the first interview. What does this mean?

-Criminal History will no longer be able to be questioned during the application process, it must be made following a first interview. However, any of that information that is voluntarily disclosed, may be further investigated.

-Any discriminatory actions taken against a potential employee on the basis of arrest or criminal history that is not currently a pending case will be unlawful.

-Employers can only make employment decisions based on this information if it is relevant to the type of job being performed. -Any employers in violation of this Ordinance are subject to fines of $2,000 per violation.

Maryland Starting October 1, 2011, employers in the state of Maryland will be prohibited from using a potential employee's credit history or report for the basis of denial of employment, discharge, or determining compensation or other terms, conditions or privileges of employment. Other states that have set these limitations include Hawaii, Illinois, Oregon, and Washington for the private sector of business. These limitations do not apply to businesses that are financial institutions, state-approved credit unions, investment advisors registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and companies that are required by federal law to review credit history data.

If an employer under that exemption, they must first disclose that they are using credit information in writing to the employee or applicant. If an employer comes in violation of this ruling, they are subject to fines of up to $500 for a first offense, and up to $2,500 for any sequential violations. Moreover, any employee who is either discharged or denied employment due to their credit history will be able to file a wrongful termination or failure-to-hire suit and seek compensatory and punitive damages.

Exemptions to this ruling:

-Managers and/or those who have the authority to set direction or control of a business or a department, division, unit, or agency of a business.

-Employees that have access to personal information of a customer, client, employee, or employer (which includes, but is not limited to: first name, last name, social security number, driver's license number, or financial account number). However, a position that involves access to information that is usually provided in a retail transaction is not exempt.

-Those that involve guardianship to the employer, including authority to issue payment, collect debts, transfer money, or enter into contracts.

-Employee that are provided with an expense account or corporate/company credit or debit cards.

-Those that have access to trade secrets, proprietary or confidential business information.

For more information visit Maryland's Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation website.