New Law Prohibits Illinois Employers from Asking Job Applicants about Criminal Background until After Job Offer is Made

A new employment law signed by Governor Pat Quinn last week and effective in 2015 will prohibit employers of over 15 employees from inquiring into a job applicant’s criminal background until after an offer of employment has been made.

This legislation is intended to help ex-offenders secure employment upon their release from prison and become productive members of society. It means that any question in an employment application that asks about criminal matters must be removed from the application. A person may be judged solely on his or her qualifications for the position offered, and questions about criminal matters must be treated for hiring purposes as if they were questions about a disability. That is, they are valid only after the offer and not before.

The new law does not apply to jobs where employers must exclude applicants with criminal histories. It is effective January 1, 2015.

This is part of a number of actions taken in recent times to enable persons with criminal records to be cleared for work despite their past histories.1 Other recent laws automatically clear arrest records for less serious, non-violent juvenile cases and make it easier for adult offenders to expunge their criminal records after completing their sentences.

1. For more information, see Jacob L. Zerkle, Job Applicants with Criminal Records Present Challenges to Employers, BEA & VANDENBERK (2014), (exploring the legal implications of hiring individuals with criminal records in Illinois).

– Kathryn M. Vanden Berk, J.D. & Jacob L. Zerkle, Associate

This article is provided for general information and should not be relied upon as legal advice for a specific situation.  If you are in need of specific advice or legal representation, please do not hesitate to contact us.

©2014 Bea & VandenBerk