Beginning January 1, 2015, Illinois employers with 15 or more employees (and their third-party employee search firms) will likely be prohibited from inquiring about, considering, or requiring disclosure of an applicant’s criminal record or history before: (i) determining the applicant is qualified for the position; and (ii) notifying the applicant that he/she has been selected for an interview. If the position requires no interview, the employer may inquire about criminal background only after it extends a conditional offer of employment.
The Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act (“JOQAA”) is expected to be signed by Governor Quinn and, if signed, will take effect January 1, 2015. The restriction on when an employer can inquire as to a criminal record will not apply if:
- Federal or state law prohibits an entity from hiring applicants with certain criminal convictions;
- An applicant’s conviction disqualifies him or her from securing a bond necessary for employment; or
- The position requires licensing under the Emergency Medical Services Systems Act.
The Illinois Department of Labor may investigate alleged violations and impose civil penalties for actual violations of the JOQAA. In order to prove compliance, employers will want to record the dates on which they determined an applicant qualified for employment and when they contacted the applicant for an interview.