Illinois Bans Criminal History Employment Pre-Screenings

criminal background checks, employment screening, Illinois defense attorney,A new Illinois law that goes into effect on January 1, 2015, seeks to give people with a criminal background a fair chance at employment. The Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act, signed into law by Governor Quinn on July 19, 2014, prohibits employers from asking most potential employees about their criminal history during the initial stages of a job application. The law applies to employers with 15 or more employees in the previous or current calendar year.

For people with criminal backgrounds, the question about their past convictions can often bar them from jobs they may be otherwise qualified for, and make it seem like their punishment will never end. Because of this, there has been a nationwide “ban the box” movement to limit employers’ questions into applicants past until later in the application process. This would stop employers from pre-screening applicants before applicants can show that they have the necessary skills to do the job.

How the Law Works

Starting next year when the law takes effect in Illinois, most employers cannot ask about an applicant’s criminal history unless the applicant has been considered qualified enough to proceed to the interview stage of the job search. If the employer will not conduct interviews, the criminal history question cannot be asked until after the employer extends a conditional offer of employment to the applicant.

While this new law will apply to most employers, there are a few exceptions. The following employers can and will continue to ask for an applicant’s criminal history earlier in the application process:

  1. Employers who are required by Illinois or federal law to exclude applicants with certain criminal convictions from employment;
  2. Employers whose employees may require a standard fidelity bond, if an applicant’s conviction of one or more specific crimes would keep the individual from getting that bond. In this case, an employer can ask about convictions of these specific crimes.
  3. Employers who employ people licensed under the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems Act

However, employers can still inform applicants of any crimes that would disqualify them for a position due to the employer’s policy, or due to federal or state law.

The Illinois Department of Labor will be responsible for taking action against employers who do not follow the new law. Employers can be fined up to $1,500 for every month they fail to comply with the law, and sued in civil court if they fail to change their behavior and follow the law.

Contact an Illinois Criminal Attorney

If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime, you need an experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney to fight for you; conviction of a misdemeanor or a felony can lead to lifelong consequences. Contact us today at Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC for a consultation.