On July 19th, Illinois’ Governor Quinn approved to enact the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act. This law, which will take effect on January 1, 2015, has previously been adopted by Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Rhode Island, making Illinois the fifth state to join.
The Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act will prohibit private sector employers from asking about a job applicant’s criminal record, as well as their history until after the employer has scheduled an interview. This law also states that if the hiring decision is made without an interview, the employer then cannot ask these things until after they have made a conditional offer of employment. This law does only apply to private sector employers that have 15 or more employees.
There are exceptions to this new law. These exceptions include the following:
- Any jobs that cannot be held by convicted criminals under federal or state law
- Jobs that require licensing under the Emergency Medical Services System Act
- A limited exception for jobs that require the use of fidelity bonds
This law will empower the Illinois Department of Labor to investigate violations and impose civil penalties for violations of the Act. With this, multiple violations and failures to remedy any violations can lead to heightened or additional penalties.
All Illinois employers that qualify for this law are encouraged to review their application documents as well as ensure that any questions about criminal history are answered before January 1, 2015.
Illinois employers are also being encouraged to revisit their current background check procedures in order to make certain that their screens are not pulling up criminal history information before it is allowed under the new law.