What You Need to Know About Whether a Criminal Record Affects Employment in Illinois
Many steps contribute to the job application process, including possible background checks. Here’s everything you need to know about whether a criminal record affect employment Illinois.
Employers must follow several requirements during the application process for a job. In addition to existing federal regulations, Illinois has two laws to protect employees with a criminal record in the job application process. However, a few exceptions to job application/hiring laws exist.
Background Checks in Illinois
An employer may conduct background checks to see if parties fit the position in the application process for a new job. Many laws limit what types of reviews an employer can do and when.
There are five types of background checks an employer may use:
- Reference check,
- Drug test,
- Social media and internet check,
- Criminal background check, and
- Credit check.
If an employer conducts background checks, they must check all applicants equally. Parties who feel treated unequally in the background check process can file a claim within 3000 days of the alleged violation with the Illinois Department of Human Rights. Parties must complete an Employment complainant information sheet before filing.
Related: Illinois Workplace Smoking Laws
Criminal Background Checks in Illinois
Federal and state laws prevent employers from asking job applicants about their expunged or sealed criminal history or subject to executive amnesty or pardon. However, exceptions to the laws apply when applicants apply for specific jobs.
Jobs with exceptions to these laws include:
- Armed security guards,
- Carnival workers,
- Child care workers,
- Health care workers,
- Local government workers,
- Private detectives, and
- School workers.
Ban the Box Laws in Illinois
Illinois is one of few states that has passed a ban-the-box law. The Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act prohibits most employers from asking about criminal history until the later stages of the application process.
Under the law, employers may not ask about or consider an applicant’s criminal history until they have:
- Determined the applicant to be qualified for the position, and
- Notified the applicant of being selected for an interview.
If employers do not host interviews, employers must extend a conditional job offer to the applicant.
Related: Illinois Right-to-Work Laws
Conviction Record Protection in Illinois
The Illinois Human Rights Act protects an individual from being discharged, disciplined, barred from employment, or denied promotions due to a conviction record without notice and an interactive assessment of whether there is a substantial relationship between the conviction and the job responsibilities.
The Illinois Human Rights Act defines a conviction record as including any information showing an individual has been:
- Convicted of a felony, misdemeanor, or other crime,
- Placed on probation,
- Imprisoned or
- Paroled by any law enforcement agency or military authority.
Refusal of Criminal Record History in Illinois
Parties can always refuse if a potential employer asks for their arrest record. If a private employer has 15 or more employees, they cannot ask for a party’s conviction history. Parties can refuse if an employer asks questions about a party’s criminal record before the interview or conditional offer.
Based on their conviction record, parties who feel discriminated against may file a charge with the Illinois Department of Human Rights but complete a Complainant Information Sheet (CIS).
Parties can submit the completed Complainant Information Sheet:
- In-person at the Illinois Department of Human Rights office in either Chicago or Springfield,
- By mail to the Illinois Department of Human Rights at the Chicago or Springfield office addresses,
- By email: IDHR.Intake@Illinois.gov or IDHR.Webmail@Illinois.gov, or – By fax: (312) 814-6251.