Criminal Background Check and “Ban the Box”

Published on 1/21/2015
Categories: Ban the Box, Criminal Background Check, Human Resources

Woman with paper at deskEffective January 1, 2015, Illinois legislature enacted a law that requires private employers with 15 or more employees to remove “the box” on their employment applications which asks whether or not the applicant has been convicted of a felony.  Thus the name “Ban the Box”.

Some employers ask that potential applicants complete an employment application before an interview or job offer.  In the past, most employment applications asked whether or not the person has been convicted of a felony or a similar question.

With the new law in place, employers are now compelled to consider only whether or not the applicant is “qualified” for the job based on information provided by the applicant and prior to an interview.  Once a decision has been made to conduct an interview or provide a conditional offer of employment, then the employer may require a criminal background check.

There are three exceptions to this rule:  1) if federal or state law excludes specific criminal convictions because of the nature of the position being applied for, 2) if a fidelity or equivalent bond is required and certain convictions would disqualify the candidate, or 3) the position requires an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) license.

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