REMINDER: New Illinois Law Limits an Employer’s Ability to Inquire Into Job Applicant’s Criminal History
By: Kristen O’Neill
The Illinois “Job Opportunities For Qualified Applicants Act”, which took effect on January 1, 2015, prohibits employers from inquiring about or into, considering, or requiring disclosure of the criminal record or criminal history of an applicant on a job application. In passing the Act, the Illinois legislature found that “it is in the public interest to do more to give Illinois employers access to the broadest pool of qualified applicants possible, protect the civil rights of those seeking employment, and ensure that all qualified applicants are properly considered for employment opportunities and are not pre-screened or denied an employment opportunity unnecessarily or unjustly.” The Act applies to all employers with 15 or more employees.
The Act specifically excludes three types of employers: (i) employers required by federal or state law to exclude applicants with certain criminal convictions; (ii) employers that require a standard fidelity or equivalent bond where one or more specific criminal convictions would disqualify the applicant; and (iii) employers that employ individuals licensed under the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems Act.
An employer may inquire into an applicant’s criminal background only after an applicant has been deemed qualified for the position and notified that he has been selected for an interview, or, if there is not an interview, only after a conditional offer of employment is made to the applicant.
Employers that violate the Act are subject to civil penalties imposed by the Illinois Department of Labor. The Act does not, however, create a private cause of action for aggrieved job applicants.
To discuss any questions you may have about the effect of the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicant Act on your business or how you can revise your employment policies to comply with the Act, please contact:
Kristen E. O’Neill at:
(312) 368-0100 or email@example.com.