Published Date: 07/28/2014
By John Gupton
Illinois recently enacted legislation that prevents criminal background checks until after an applicant is deemed qualified for a job. The law, entitled the “Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act” (http://j.mp/il-li) prohibits a private employer with 15 or more employees or employment agency from inquiring about or considering an applicant’s criminal history until the applicant has been determined to be qualified for the job and selected for an interview. The new law does not apply to certain jobs where employers must exclude applicants with criminal histories. The law would not prohibit employers from notifying applicants in writing of specific offenses that will disqualify an applicant from employment in a particular position due to federal or state law or the employer’s policy. The legislation goes into effect on January 1, 2015.
The Illinois Department of Labor will enforce the law and will issue a written warning for the first violation and the employer will have 30 days to remedy the violation. If the first violation is not remedied within 30 days, or for a second violation, the Illinois Department of Labor may impose a civil penalty of up to $500. If the first violation is not remedied within 60 days, or for a third violation, the Illinois Department of Labor may impose a civil penalty of up to $1,500. If the first violation is not remedied within 90 days, or for subsequent violations, violators face an additional civil penalty of up to $1,500 for every 30 days that pass without compliance.
Illinois becomes the fifth state to extend such a ban to private employers, following Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Rhode Island.
[Note: Although North Carolina does not have any “Ban the Box” law, North Carolina in 2013 did enact a law that prohibits employers from asking for or considering expunged convictions.]