Philadelphia Law Firm Advises Employers On New ‘Ban the Box’ Law

By Hadas Kuznits

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — New legislation in Philadelphia aimed at giving ex-convicts a chance to make a better first impression at job interviews was the topic of a legal seminar this morning in center city.  Employers were learning how the law is being enforced by the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations.

The law firm of Zarwin Baum hosted the seminar for some of their clients, addressing a new regulation that has been dubbed “Ban the Box.”

Those regulations prohibit employers from inquiring about a job applicant’s criminal background on the initial application.  “Banning the box” refers to the box that would ask, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?”

“The legislation was passed in April of 2011 but actually went into effect on January 13, 2012,” says law firm managing shareholder Mitchell Kaplan.  “I also should emphasize that it’s just the County of Philadelphia.”

Bill Hart is executive director for the mayor’s office of Re-Integration Services for Ex-offenders (“RISE”).

“I guess the key concern is, they have to understand that candidates that come to them are no different than anybody else,” Hart says.  “If they’re qualified they should be at least be allowed an opportunity to sell themselves, their skills, and what they can bring for any employer.”

More from Hadas Kuznits
  • wpb

    For all of you jumping on the bandwagen against this law, think for a minute. How do these people get a chance if people don’t stop being judge and jury all over again against them. Sure you can ask later on in the hiring sequence about a record. And nobody is saying you have to put a child molester in charge of children. Just give them a fair shake and see what kind of person they really are after they have paid their”debt to society”. You may find one of the most loyal employees you have ever hired. People do not forget when they are given another chance in life.

  • Steven Miller

    Eric Holder was going after bass pro shops since they wont hire felons,since felons are mostly black, but since they sell guns and ammo legally there is almost no job they could be hired for there. At this rate you will have a quota for felons so you can be sued if you have less felons that the general population

  • The Dead Truth

    This is a matter of “safety.” The Ban the Box movement is only facing the reality that there are over “81 million” people living with a criminal conviction on their records in the United States. There are only 307 million people in the country. Do the math people. This means that over 1 in 4 people have some type of conviction on their public records. The employer still has the right to ask the question further in the hiring process. Under the Constitution it is “illegal” to deny all people with convictions from legal employment. The EEOC has made that point perfectly clear. I don’t feel safe with so many people with criminal convictions “unemployed.”
    You must be “out of your mind” to suggest that people who have “paid their debt to society” should have to answer to employers to whom they already paid for their crime. The reason why more and more states, cities and municipalities are adopting ban the box measures is because of the empirical data which shows that employment is the best way to lower crime. Let’s get the facts straight. When you use the word “criminals,” “felons” and “convicts” you dilute your entire argument because you show you are “demonizing” these people off the bat.
    You make it appear as if unemployed people with criminal convictions should just simply “die.” You cannot live in our society without food and shelter. Also, people will not just “die.” They will do whatever it takes by whatever means they have to, to “survive.” This includes “forcibly” taking what you have for their survival. When you reduce people to “animals” don’t be surprised when the “animal” attacks you. At the rate we are going, we are on the “fast track” to criminalizing 1/3rd of our population in just a few short years. The United States is the only modern country in the world that criminalizes it’s people for profit. Everyone knows that “race” plays a great role in this evil practice. The “Chickens are going to come home to roost” sooner or later. Civil Death is an ancient “savage” practice adopted by American settlers, but was derived from ancient Europe. Civil Death Penalties are still practiced today, albeit in disguised form, and punishes anyone who commits a criminal act “for life.” (See) “Civil Death in New York State, How New York State Utilizes Criminal Conviction Records to Impede the Economic Growth of Formerly Convicted People.” This book shows the history of the practice of “civil death” and how it is applied in today’s society. Learn something about crime and punishment before you post a stupid comment. Let’s have an informed adult discussion about “Ban the Box” and not let the discussion be diluted by uneducated racist.


    Philadelphia, and the rest of our country, continues the “Magical Act” of making “Common Sense” vanish on a daily basis. Let me see if I’ve got this straight. An applicant’s credit report is fair game, and can be used as an excuse to not hire an applicant, but if that same applicant is an ex-con, I’ve got to ignore that.

    Is there anyone left around here, in positions of power, with a half a brain left in their heads?

  • In plain sight

    Only a li bt a rd could come up with such an i di otic law.

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