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New Lehigh County Anti-Discrimination Ordinance Impacts Employers

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The Lehigh County Board of Commissioners recently passed a broad anti-discrimination ordinance that establishes several protected classes impacting employment, housing and other industries (such as education). Effective June 1, 2024, employers with any employees in the county are encouraged to review the law and take necessary steps to come into compliance.

What the Ordinance Includes

From a criminal history perspective, the ordinance includes the following:

  • Employers may not ask whether the applicant has ever been convicted of a crime on an employment application. Employers may include in its job requirements that an applicant have a clean driving record or be able to pass a child abuse clearance check.
  • Employers may not require a job applicant to disclose criminal convictions until after an initial interview.
  • Employers are prohibited from considering conviction records which do not relate to an applicant’s suitability for employment. After a first interview, employers may use background checks and prior history to determine suitability for employment. Pennsylvania State law requires employers to provide written notification if a denial of employment was based in whole or in part on the applicant ’s criminal history. Failure to provide such notice will also be a violation of the ordinance.

The ordinance also prohibits employers from inquiring into a job applicant’s salary history from any previous or current employment. 

Individuals may file complaints with the Human Relations Commission who will determine if the complaint should be investigated. The ordinance also allows for a private right of action if the Commission dismisses the complaint.

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