Are Sex Offenders Required To Notify Neighbors and Employers?
Most people know that Pennsylvania’s Sex Offender Registry is available to the public online. Thanks to Megan’s Law, law enforcement authorities are required to identify sex offenders to the general public, tracking their whereabouts to protect individuals from victimization within their community. But with this information accessible to anyone at any time, are sex offenders required to notify their neighbors and employers of their criminal history directly? We’ll explain the disclosure requirements for your community and employment.
What Community Disclosure is Required for Sex Offenders?
Megan’s Law refers to a collection of laws that mandate the notification of sex offenders in a particular community to the people that live there. This registry was designed to help provide the public and area law enforcement with the information they need to develop constructive plans, safety programs and more to protect their local residents.
In Pennsylvania, the state categorizes registrants in two ways: sexual offenders or sexually violent predators. Sexually violent predators are offenders who “have a [court-determined] abnormality or personality disorder that makes that person likely to engage in predatory sexually violent offenses.” Unlike other sexual offenders who may be released from registration requirements after a minimum of 15 years, offenders designated as sexually violent must register for life.
These offenders are also subject to “active community notification.” While this requires no action from the offender himself, local law enforcement authorities are obligated to post notification flyers within the community in which the offender lives.
What are Sex Offenders Required to Disclose to Employers?
Here’s the short answer: If you are still on probation, parole or in treatment, your probation/parole officer or treatment provider may require you to inform your employer. If you are not under any type of supervision, there is no legal obligation requiring you to disclose this information.
However, in many cities across Pennsylvania, employers are generally permitted to ask about criminal convictions on their job applications. While offenders must answer truthfully, several other state and federal laws are in place to protect against hiring discrimination. One of these laws is part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, requiring employers to consider how the offense relates to the functions of the actual job, as well as the severity of the offense and how long ago it occurred. If the conviction does not impact the applicant’s ability to adequately and safely perform the tasks of the job, they cannot reject that applicant solely on the basis of their criminal record.
If you’re living or working in Philadelphia, the rules are a little different. As a result of the Fair Criminal Record Screening Standards Ordinance, employers are prohibited from asking about criminal records on job applications all together. This statute, also known as the “Ban the Box” Ordinance, applies to all employers with at least 10 employees, except for criminal justice agencies (ie. police departments).
If you or someone you know was convicted of a sex crime in Pennsylvania, you’ll want an experienced criminal defense attorney guiding you through the process. Contact us for a legal consultation to discuss what is required of you legally and the recommended next steps to help you move on.