Philly Employers, Take Heed: Ban the Box is Stronger Now Than Ever

Last month, then Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed an amendment to the city’s “Ban the Box” law which is set to take effect 90 days from December 15, 2015. This amendment adds to the already burdensome hiring restrictions on Philadelphia employers. Philadelphia is now recognized as having one of the most restrictive policies in the country for employers seeking to perform background checks.

To understand the amendment to the law, Ban the Boxit’s important to compare the new policy with the original 2012 “Ban the Box” legislation. When the policy first went into place, it was limited to private employers with at least ten employees. Now, any employer (public or private) in Philadelphia with even as few as one other employee is subject to the law. This is a huge change to the potential reach of this law and burden on employers. It essentially mandates that unless you work entirely by and for yourself, you must now comply with this law for any and all applicants in your hiring process.

Under the previous version of the law, the main obstacle for Philadelphia employers was that they were barred from asking an applicant about his or her criminal history on the application itself or during the initial interview. However, under the previous law, there was no bar on employers conducting these background checks after the initial interview and before making any conditional offer of employment. Now, the most impactful change created by this amendment is that employers can only conduct criminal background checks after the employer makes a conditional offer of employment to an applicant.

Additionally, under the new law, employers are restricted to a window of seven years prior to the application to investigate an applicant’s criminal record. Under the previous version of Philadelphia’s “Ban the Box” legislation, an employer had the ability to conduct background checks as far back as they desired.

Finally, the new addition to the law mandates that an employer notify the applicant and send to the applicant a copy of their criminal background check if the applicant is rejected. From that point, the applicant is provided ten (10) days in which to contest the employer’s decision and three-hundred (300) days to file a complaint with the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations.

PRACTICAL: If you’re an employer in Philadelphia, big OR small, you need to be fully aware of this amendment to the “Ban the Box” Law. If either you or an employee of yours (such as an HR Manager) is charged with interviewing potential candidates for hire, it is critical to cover all bases to demonstrate you complied with the law and engaged in a holistic analysis of the individual before rejecting him or her.

The Law Firm of Howland, Hess, Guinan, Torpey, Cassidy & O’Connell is well versed in Business and Corporate Law. If you’re an employer in Philadelphia seeking to determine how best to defend yourself from claims by rejected applicants who are claiming you violated the “Ban the Box” legislation, the attorneys at Howland Hess O’Connell are ready and able to guide you through this new policy.

Legal Disclaimer: The contents of this website are intended solely for informational purposes. They neither constitute nor imply an official legal opinion on behalf of Howland, Hess, Guinan, Torpey, Cassidy and O’Connell nor do they establish an attorney-client relationship of any kind. Howland Hess O’Connell encourages all readers to seek and consult professional counsel before acting upon the information contained on this site.

 

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License Suspensions: Part Three of a Three Part Series

In Part One of our Three Part Series regarding License Suspensions, we introduced generally the topic of license suspensions and the most common causes for a suspended license. In Part Two of our Three Part Series, we discussed the issue of License Suspensions resulting from non-attentiveness. In today’s post, we discuss the issue of suspensions resulting from over-attentiveness (usually caused by a moral desire to obey the law and simply make the ticket or fine go away).

Imagine the following, very real scenario: you receive a ticket and, being overly concerned about not being timely in your response, write a check and pay the fine immediately. In doing so, do you realize what you’ve done? You have just plead guilty to whatever violation is the basis of the ticket.

Car Keys

Did you know that many violations lead to additional penalties imposed by Penndot that are not mentioned on the ticket? Many people don’t. In addition, since local courts are not permitted to provide legal advice, many people who are trying to promptly respond to the ticket (to avoid a suspension, and follow the law) frequently find out after paying the fine that Penndot is suspending the license because of the nature of the violation.

Be aware that pleading ‘guilty’ or being found ‘guilty’, means being “convicted“. Once convicted, Penndot can impose points and suspensions which can be more costly than the original fines.

The moral of this story and three-part series is simple: be attentive to any tickets you may receive but be cautious before pleading guilty to them. It is critically important to know what all the ramifications are prior to doing so.

NOTICE: If you’re license has been suspended or you’re facing the potential of a license suspension, the attorneys at Howland Hess O’Connell are available today to help you. Michael Cassidy is very experienced with the Motor Vehicle Code, Penndot’s schedule of penalties, and, most importantly the police officers and judicial system that handle these citations. Competent legal advice can save money (in fines, costs, and higher insurance premiums), and quite frequently, the loss of your driver’s license.

Legal Disclaimer: The contents of this website are intended solely for informational purposes. They neither constitute nor imply an official legal opinion on behalf of Howland, Hess, Guinan, Torpey, Cassidy and O’Connell nor do they establish an attorney-client relationship of any kind. Howland Hess O’Connell encourages all readers to seek and consult professional counsel before acting upon the information contained on this site.

Howland Hess O’Connell Attorney, Dennis Meakim, Elected as a Director of the Montgomery Bar Association.

On Friday, January 8, 2016, Dennis Meakim of Howland, Hess, Guinan, Torpey, Cassidy & O’Connell, LLP, was elected to the Board of Directors of the Montgomery Bar Association. The Montgomery Bar Association, or “MBA,” has 2,100 members. The Board is made up of the Officers, the Chairs of the Four Sections (Family Law, Probate and Tax, Trial Lawyers, and Young Lawyers), and the 15 members elected by the membership. Five of these fifteen members are elected every year to serve for a term of three years. Dennis is one of those five most recent elected Directors picked to serve for the next three years.

The Board of Directors of the MBA provides insight and direction to the officers of the organization. The Montgomery Bar Association includes over 60 Committees and Sections covering all aspects of the law and legal practice. The Board serves as a voice of the members and is the voting body for establishing policies and objectives of the organization.

Mr. Meakim had a busy day Friday. He was not only elected to the Board of Directors, but he was also appointed Co-Chair of the Sidebar Committee at the MBA. The Sidebar Committee puts together “Sidebar”, the award winning quarterly magazine of the Montgomery Bar Association. The magazine contains a mix of brief scholarly articles, practice tips, and announcements of the news and events most relevant to the membership of MBA.

Dennis’ practice focuses on family law, business law, and estate planning in the five county area (Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware, Chester and Philadelphia) as well as Camden and Gloucester counties in New Jersey. He also practices in the areas of criminal defense and personal injury. Howland Hess O’Connell congratulates Dennis on this tremendous achievement.

 

License Suspensions: Part Two of a Three Part Series

In Part One of our Three Part Series regarding License Suspensions, we introduced generally the topic of license suspensions and the most common causes for a suspended license. As previously mentioned, there are a myriad of reasons a person’s license might be suspended, including non-attentiveness after receipt of a ticket or, to the contrary, being ultra-attentive upon receipt of a ticket.

In today’s second posting regarding license suspensions, we discuss the dangers of non-attentiveness. Consider the following. You receive a ticket for something as minor as a parking ticket, or making an illegal turn. Unfortunately, you forget to promptly respond within the permitted response period (or lose the ticket). Although the court sends out a reminder, you either do not receive it or forget again to respond. That “failure to respond” will then be promptly reported by the local court to Penndot and Penndot, in turn, will suspend your driver’s license.

Lic Susp

It is not infrequent for people who “failed to respond” and who had their license suspended, to not even know their license was suspended. These individuals then drive only to get pulled over and cited for “Driving Under Suspension”. This violation alone calls for a one year suspension. The moving or parking violation is the original violation, and when you eventually plead guilty to the citation and pay the fine, you are subsequently admitting guilt to driving under suspension.

For the foregoing reasons, it is critical that you be aware of the full penalty before pleading guilty to any offenses and paying the fines.

NOTICE: If you’re license has been suspended or you’re facing the potential of a license suspension, the attorneys at Howland Hess O’Connell are available today to help you. Michael Cassidy is very experienced with the Motor Vehicle Code, Penndot’s schedule of penalties, and, most importantly the police officers and judicial system that handle these citations. Competent legal advice can save money (in fines, costs, and higher insurance premiums), and quite frequently, the loss of your driver’s license.

Legal Disclaimer: The contents of this website are intended solely for informational purposes. They neither constitute nor imply an official legal opinion on behalf of Howland, Hess, Guinan, Torpey, Cassidy and O’Connell nor do they establish an attorney-client relationship of any kind. Howland Hess O’Connell encourages all readers to seek and consult professional counsel before acting upon the information contained on this site.