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Pennsylvania’s new Clean Slate Law and Topics “Off Limits” for Potential Employers

January 28, 2019
Morgan Randle
Posted in: Labor & Employment

In June 2018 the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed 18 Pa. C.S. § 9122.2, commonly referred to as the “Clean Slate Law” (“CSL”), which officially began its first phase on December 26, 2018.  The CSL permits individuals with certain criminal records to seal arrests and convictions, largely, making the same unviewable by potential employers.

In Pennsylvania, most second and third-degree misdemeanors can be sealed after ten years, so long as the individual meets certain criteria.  The CSL expands sealing to include certain first-degree misdemeanors, and to expedite the sealing of lower level convictions.  As of January 2019, eligible individuals can file a petition for their record to be sealed with the court from which any charges were heard.  The legislature has indicated that the second phase of the CSL, due to go into effect in June 2019, includes the automatic sealing of certain convictions, depending on the grade and length of time expired without any additional criminal offenses.

Although qualified records will be sealed to the public, law enforcement individuals, employers who are required to consider criminal records under federal law, and employers who use FBI background checks will still be able to view the records.

The CSL comes as various Pennsylvania counties are enacting “Ban the Box” legislation.  This legislation makes it unlawful for an employer to question applicants regarding their criminal backgrounds on employment applications.  Such questions have already been banned on all state employment applications.

Beyond these changes, employers can anticipate a change in both standard practices and employment legislation affecting the way that employers can view and/or access an applicant’s criminal record. Should you have questions or concerns as you navigate this issue, please contact the undersigned or one of our team.