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Earlier this year, HB5701, the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act, was passed and signed into law in Illinois. This law is more colloquially known as the Ban the Box law and presents Illinois job applicants with greater opportunities to secure employment. Similar laws are becoming popular throughout the United States. Currently, 12 states have statewide Ban the Box laws and 19 states contain at least one city or county with this type of law.
Illinois' Human Rights Act prohibits employers from considering arrest record information and expunged convictions during the hiring decision process. This new law builds upon that by removing questions of an individual's criminal history from the job application process.
If you have been convicted of a criminal offense in the past, talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney to learn more about how your criminal history can affect your career. Although this law opened up many opportunities for job seekers in Illinois, there are some additional considerations that affect certain classes of jobs and types of employers. Additionally, if you are a hiring manager or a business owner, discuss this law with an employment attorney to ensure that your company stays within the rules set forth by the act when seeking and hiring new employees. Penalties for violating the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act include fines of up to $1,500 per day for companies that do not obey the law.
What is “The Box”?
The term “the box” refers to the box found on most job applications that asks whether or not the applicant has ever been convicted of a crime.
Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act
Effective January 1st, 2015, the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act puts forth new rules for employers regarding when they may seek information about their applicants' criminal histories. The following employers are affected by the regulations in this act:
- Private employers with 15 or more employees; and
- All employment agencies.
Under this act, these employers may not ask about or require disclosure of a job applicant's criminal history until the employer decides to bring the applicant in for an interview or offers the applicant a job. In short, the employer may not seek this information until it has determined that an applicant is otherwise qualified to perform the job.
There are exceptions to this rule, though. If the employer must exclude applicants with certain criminal convictions from certain positions due to Illinois or federal law, the requirements in the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act do not apply. In this type of scenario, the employer may inform applicants of all disqualifying offenses in writing.
In addition to this scenario, these rules do not apply in cases where a standard fidelity or similar bond is required for work and the applicant's criminal record prevents him or her from obtaining such a bond. Again, an employer may ask an applicant about his or her past convictions in this type of case.
These rules also do not apply when the position advertised requires applicants to be licensed under the Emergency Medical Services Systems Act.
Any violations to this act are handled by the Illinois Department of Labor.
The Significance of the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act
By “banning the box” on most employment applications, Illinois is breaking down one of the most daunting obstacles to employment that job applicants face. For many individuals and groups, including the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Ban the Box laws are a victory for progress and social justice. They signify an end to the era of discrimination against former offenders in the workplace and an opportunity for these Americans to find work and financially support themselves.
Cook County Criminal Defense Attorneys
Ban the Box laws continue to gain popularity throughout the United States. As an Illinois employer or job seeker, it is important that you fully understand the changes that this law brought to the Prairie State. Contact Glasgow & Olsson at 847-577-8700 to discuss this law with an experienced Schaumburg criminal defense attorney. By learning more about your rights and obligations, you will be able to take control of your job search and work toward securing meaningful employment for yourself.