Q. We’re going back and forth on this question: On an employment application, can we legally ask about an applicant’s prior conviction record or arrest record?
A. You may not ask about an arrest record, but you can ask about a conviction record. Under Pennsylvania law, though, you can consider a conviction record in making a hiring decision only to the extent that the conviction relates to the applicant’s suitability for the job for which he or she is applying.
In addition, the EEOC advises employers to review the specifics of the conviction (when it occurred, what it was for, etc.) before making any hiring decision. It’s the EEOC’s position that a policy of refusing to hire applicants with convictions adversely impacts black and Hispanic applicants.
If you do ask about convictions, you should include a statement that a conviction will not necessarily disqualify the applicant from employment.