FEOP: Heard v. Genesis
Taheera Heard is a 38-year-old African-American woman who was sought out by a recruiter and offered a job as a Senior IT Auditor at the administrative offices of Genesis. Our lawsuit alleged that after making an initial job offer, and setting a conditional start date, Genesis never got back to Ms. Heard to finalize the start date, and it was only months later that Ms. Heard received notice that she was not being hired because of the results of a background check. The complaint alleged that Genesis based its decision not to hire on unrelated criminal charges, even though Ms. Heard had previously disclosed her record to the company. In anticipation of her new position, Ms. Heard had already quit her previous job, and so became unemployed. In August 2016, the lawsuit was resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.
Pennsylvania law protects people like Ms. Heard from this type of automatic disqualification. Under Pennsylvania’s Criminal History Record Information Act, employers making hiring decisions cannot consider convictions unrelated to a particular job, nor can they consider arrests that did not lead to convictions. Employers must also provide written notice when denying a job offer because of a criminal record. Ms. Heard is receiving representation through the Fair Employment Opportunities Project, a coalition of legal groups working to improve access to employment for people with criminal records.