Use of Criminal History for Employment

Pennsylvania law allows prospective employers very limited use of criminal history in the application process.  The Criminal History Record Information Act, or CHRIA, allows an employer to use only conviction data for misdemeanors and felonies and only “to the extent to which they relate to the applicant’s suitability for employment in the position for which he has applied.”  Employers may not consider non-conviction data and information relating to summary criminal offenses.


Anyone who has a criminal history and has applied for a job knows many employers ignore these restrictions.  Further, employers are required to notify an applicant in writing if the decision to not hire them is based “in whole or in part” on the applicant’s criminal history information.  Again, many employers ignore this requirement.


Both applicants and employers need to be aware that a violation of CHRIA can result in a lawsuit for actual damages or $100 ( whichever is more), plus attorneys’ fees and costs of the lawsuit.  If the violation is found to be willful, the applicant will be awarded punitive damages of not less than $1,000 and not more than $10,000.

If you would like to review your Pennsylvania criminal history records with an attorney to see what impact it may have on your right to vote, obtain employment or discuss whether your criminal history can be expunged, contact the attorneys at Trinity Law at 717-843-8046.