Illinois’s New “Ban the Box” Law Prohibits Asking About Criminal Histories on Job Applications

by Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

On July 19, 2014, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act, making Illinois the fifth state to bar private employers from asking job applicants about their criminal backgrounds until the applicants are deemed “qualified” for the positions. This law expands to private employers the “ban the box” rules that have applied to public sector jobs in Illinois since October, 2013.

Effective January 1, 2015, employment agencies and private employers with 15 or more employees will no longer be able to inquire about or consider an applicant’s criminal background until after the applicant has been notified that he or she will be interviewed, or, if there will be no interviews, after a conditional offer of employment is made.

Three limited exceptions to the new rules apply to certain applicants and employers: (1) applicants licensed under the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems Act may be asked about their criminal histories; (2) employers subject to state or federal laws that require applicants with certain criminal convictions be excluded may inquire; and (3) employers that require a standard fidelity bond may seek this information when an applicant’s criminal conviction would disqualify the individual for a bond.

Under the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act, applicants do not have a private right to sue employers directly for alleged violations of the law. Rather, the Illinois Department of Labor is charged with enforcing the act. Statutory penalties include the issuance of a written notice and a 30-day remedy period for the first violation; a $500 fine for a second violation or for a first violation that has not been remedied in 30 days; $1,500 for a third violation or for a first violation that has not been remedied in 60 days; and an additional $1,500 for each subsequent violation or, if the first violation has not remedied in 90 days, for every 30 days that passes.

While the act adds another layer of protection for job applicants in Illinois, it will increase the level of scrutiny on employers’ hiring practices. Under the Illinois Human Rights Act, employers, employment agencies, and labor organizations are already prohibited from inquiring into or basing their employment decisions on the fact of an arrest or expunged, sealed, or impounded criminal history record. The same prohibitions apply to government contractors. And the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) vigorously enforces its Guidance on Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions, which requires a multi-factor individualized assessment of employers’ decisions not to hire applicants based on the applicants’ criminal convictions.

Before the new Illinois law becomes effective, employers should ensure that their hiring processes are up-to-date and in full compliance with the law. Job applications should no longer request any criminal history information and background checks should not be run until after applicants have been selected for interviews or made conditional offers of employment (if the employer is not planning on conducting interviews). It is also important to carefully consider the defensibility of decisions not to hire applicants based on criminal record information. Such decisions will be scrutinized by the EEOC, the Illinois Department of Human Rights, and now the Illinois Department of Labor.

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.

© Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.