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.

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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?”

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“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”).

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“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.”