PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – City Council today gave final approval to new restrictions on the questions employers can ask of job applicants about possible prior criminal records.

Advocates for ex-offenders, including Wayne Jacobs of Ex-Offenders for Community Empowerment, said finding a job can be still difficult many years after release, because they always have to check the box on job applications specifying that they have prior convictions.

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“People who have been home maybe 10, 15, 20 years, they have to face the box,” said Jacobs. “And these people have shown that they are crime-free, and they are good citizens and they need to work.”

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City Council approved a bill that prohibits employers from putting that box on job applications and from asking about ex-offender status during the first interview. Such questions are allowed during a follow-up interview.

The bill now goes to the mayor. A spokesman says he will sign the measure.

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Reported by Mike Dunn, KYW Newsradio 1060