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Philly bans questions about criminal backgrounds
HARRISBURG, PA. (5/9/11)--A new Philadelphia ordinance restricts employers with more than 10 employees--including credit unions--from inquiring into potential employees' arrests and convictions. The ordinance, which takes effect July 12, prohibits an employer from asking about arrests or criminal charges that are not pending against the individual or did not result in an arrest. The limitation applies during the application process and any time after, said the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) (Life is a Highway May 6). Credit unions also won’t be permitted during the application process to ask an individual to disclose any criminal convictions. The application process begins when an applicant inquires about the employment and ends when an employer has accepted an employment application. “This legislation is intended to give the individual with a criminal record an opportunity to be judged on his or her own merit during the submission of the application and at least until the completion of one interview,” a preamble to the ordinance states. “For credit unions with employees in the city of Philadelphia, it might be wise to take a look at your employment applications and questions about criminal history,” advised Rick Wargo, PCUA general counsel. “The ordinance does not compel hiring individuals who have a background that is inconsistent with working at a credit union. But, credit unions may have to exercise some care through the application process and first interview.” Federal and state-chartered credit unions have a specific statutory duty to provide for bond or fidelity coverage for officers and employees who have custody of or handle funds, PCUA said. The Philadelphia ordinance has an exemption provision that appears to render the law inoperable if another applicable law specifically authorizes some of the practices barred by the ordinance, Wargo said. “If an individual is not bondable, they cannot work at the credit union,” Wargo said. “We’re doing some additional analysis to square the bond coverage requirements of the Credit Union Code and Federal Credit Union Act and this new Philadelphia Ordinance and its exemption language.”


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