Friday, January 23, 2015

Illinois Adopts “Ban the Box” Law – Prescreening Exceptions

Effective January 1, 2015, Illinois enacted the Job Opportunities For Qualified Applicants Act (the Act) which prohibits prescreening a job applicant’s criminal history.

Prescreening Exceptions

There are three exceptions to the prohibition against prescreening for an applicant’s criminal history.  First, that prohibition does not apply to employers who are required to exclude applicants with certain criminal convictions from employment due to federal or state law.

Second, the prohibition does not apply to positions that require a standard fidelity bond, or an equivalent bond, and the applicant’s conviction of one or more specified criminal offenses would disqualify the applicant from obtaining such a bond.  In this case, the employer may include a question or otherwise inquire whether the applicant has ever been convicted of any of those offenses.

Third, the prohibition does not apply to employment of individuals under the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems Act.  Nothing in the Act prohibits an employer from notifying applicants in writing of the specific offenses that will disqualify an applicant from employment in a particular position due to federal or state law, or the employer’s policy.

Under the Act, the Illinois Department of Labor is responsible to investigate alleged violations of the Act.  In the event the Illinois Department of Labor determines the Act has been violated, it may pursue a civil action to recover penalties.  The Act also provides for various finds for violations.

See next week’s article in the Workplace Report for a discussion of Best Practices for Employers to Ensure Compliance with this New Law.