In the lawsuit, Green and co-plaintiff Christopher Lakis allege that the Phillies told Fan Foto to fire them "because of their previous felony convictions."
When I first wrote about this, a Phillies spokesman told me that the team doesn't tell contractors whether to do background checks. After the lawsuit was filed, the Phillies' vice presidentof communications, Bonnie Clark, flatly stated, "The Phillies had no involvement in conducting any criminal background checks on Mr. Green or Mr. Lakis or in the decision to discharge them from their employment with Fan Foto."
Green's attorney, Andrew Abramson, told me he has no direct proof of the Phillies' involvement other than that's what his clients were told.
Whoever did the firing, he said, violated Pennsylvania's Criminal History Record Information law, which says that employers can use history "only to the extent to which they relate to the applicant's suitability" for employment.
"If someone wanted to argue that someone coming off the street for the first time is not qualified, that would be one thing," said Abramson, "but Mr. Green worked in this job for four years and got accolades. I can't imagine how he could not be employed."
Fan Foto is owned by Sharp Shooter Imaging, which did not return many calls from me. Sharp Shooter has a contract with MLB subsidiary Advanced Media, but Matthew Gould, vice president of corporate communications, wouldn't reveal what the contract says about hiring ex-cons.
I concluded that MLB Advanced Media has a "don't hire ex-offenders" rule.
I can't vouch for co-defendant Lakis, but I know Green. He loves his job, he's loved by fans, and I believe he'd like nothing better than to return to his job at the ballpark, which provides most of his income.
Is this court trip necessary? Can't whoever made the decision - whether at MLB Advanced Media and/or Sharp Shooter - just admit that this is a mess and restore Green's job? He's proved that he's trustworthy and hardworking. The thief he once was is buried in his past.
Even if MLB (or some division) has a blanket rule against hiring ex-offenders (which might not be legal), how can they fire a guy who acknowledged that he was an ex-con when he was hired and has been, by all accounts, an exemplary employee? Local Fan Foto manager Pat Coyle calls Green "one in a million."
Coyle and Green started at Fan Foto at about the same time, and Coyle told me that Green told him about his bad past. Around that time, as well, Green started volunteering for a Center City nonprofit, and the executive director told me that Green declared his convictions to her. He wasn't hiding or lying, and she now sings his praises.
The week I wrote about this, Mayor Nutter was signing "ban the box" legislation prohibiting employers from asking if job applicants have a record during a first interview. Employers can ask during later interviews.
The idea is to prevent ex-
offenders from automatically being eliminated because of a bad past. There are an estimated 300,000 Philadelphians with records. That's a lot of people.
If they are barred from getting honest jobs, some will return to previous pastimes - thieving, robbing, bad-check writing, selling drugs, maybe worse.
You remember the thousands and thousands of win-hungry Eagles' fans who bleated that Michael Vick deserved a "second chance"? Do we restrict "second chances" to star athletes?
It isn't bleeding-heart, do-goodism to give ex-cons a fair shot at jobs. It's good for them and it protects the rest of us.
And some of them will shine.
Like John Green.
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