Illinois Ban the Box Law

A new Illinois Ban the Box law that went into effect on January 1, 2015 prohibits employers from asking about an employee’s criminal background on applications or during the early part of the selection and recruiting process. The “Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act” was signed by Governor Pat Quinn in July 2014. It prevents employers or their agents from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history until after the applicant’s qualifications have been reviewed.

In essence, this IL Ban the Box law requires employers to consider applicants regardless of their criminal history, but still allows employers to reject a candidate during the background check phase. Employers are not allowed to inquire about an applicant’s criminal history until after an interview, and after a conditional offer of employment has been made. Legal experts hope that this will encourage employers to overlook an applicant’s criminal history when the crimes occurred long ago, involved a youthful offender or when there were extenuating circumstances.

The law does not require that employers hire applicants with a criminal history, especially applicants with a conviction for a violent crime. It covers employers with 15 or more employees in the current or preceding calendar year, plus the agents of such employers.

The law does not cover applicants in three classes. This includes applicants who are excluded from certain occupations under federal or state law. It also includes applicants for positions that require a fidelity bond or the equivalent. In addition, it does not apply to an employer hiring licensed individual sunder the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems Act.

Under the Illinois Ban the Box law, employers are permitted to list offenses on the application that would exclude an applicant from employment.

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