Illinois On Verge Of Barring Employers From Soliciting Criminal Background Information On Applications


Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has stated that he will sign into law legislation passed by the Illinois legislature at the end of May that bars private sector employers from soliciting criminal background information. The pending legislation - the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act (the Act) - would bar private sector employers who have 15 or more employees from soliciting criminal history information from an applicant until: (a) the employer has made a determination that the applicant is qualified for the position and notified the applicant that he or she has been selected for a job interview; or (b) the employer has made a conditional offer of employment to the applicant, provided that the employer will not be conducting job interviews for the position. The Act, once signed by Governor Quinn, will take effect on January 1, 2015.  The Act includes the following exemptions: (a) it does not apply to positions that, under state or federal law, cannot be held by individuals who have been convicted of specific crimes; (b) it does not apply to positions that require a standard fidelity bond or another equivalent bond and where certain convictions would disqualify the applicant from obtaining such a bond (in this case, the employer may inquire on the job application about the specific convictions that would preclude the acquisition of a bond); (c) it does not apply to applicants seeking construction work with a contractor; (d) it does not apply to employers who employ individuals under the Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, Fingerprint Vendor, and Locksmith Act; and (e) it does not apply to employers who employ individuals licensed under the Emergency Management Services Act. The Illinois Department of Labor will have the authority to enforce the law, including issuing regulations implementing its provisions and assessing penalties. The law does not create a private right of action. A copy of the legislation as introduced in the Senate (and two Senate Amendments subsequently passed by the House) can be found here.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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