Illinois May Ban the Box for Private Employers

Written By Thomas Ahearn

Illinois Ban the BoxA Senate Committee of the Illinois General Assembly has voted to approve legislation – House Bill 5701, The Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act – to restrict private employers with more than 15 employees from asking job applicants about criminal records until later in the hiring process. A copy of HB5701 is at http://ilga.gov/legislation/98/HB/PDF/09800HB5701lv.pdf. (Updated July 21, 2014: Illinois Governor Signs Ban the Box Legislation)

Sponsored by Chicago Democratic State Senator Tony Munoz, HB5701 would ban Illinois private employers – except those in construction, security, and emergency medical services or with jobs currently requiring background checks under law – from asking about criminal records until applicants are deemed qualified. If enacted, Illinois HB5701 would take effect January 1, 2015.

Currently Illinois Administrative Order 1 requires all employing agencies, boards, and commissions to modify job applications for state employment to “Ban the Box” and remove any question about an applicant’s criminal history. State employers must also evaluate each applicant’s criminal history. Order 1 is at http://nelp.3cdn.net/42c25cad5cdf17e461_79m6b9t0o.pdf.

According to Ban the Box Resource Guide from the National Employment Law Project (NELP), 12 U.S. states – California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois (state employment only), Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Rhode island – have banned the box. The guide is at http://nelp.3cdn.net/d399b53681a89e5812_nqm6vuc4k.pdf.

A 2011 NELP report titled ‘65 Million Need Not Apply: The Case for Reforming Criminal Background Checks for Employment’ estimated 65 million Americans – one in four U.S. adults – had a criminal record. NELP now estimates 70 million Americans – still one in four U.S. adults – have a criminal record. The report is at http://nelp.3cdn.net/e9231d3aee1d058c9e_55im6wopc.pdf.

Will Illinois Ban the Box for Private Employers?

To keep up to date on the latest Ban the Box legislation in Illinois and other states and cities, read Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) News blogs tagged “Ban the Box” at http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/tag/ban-the-box/.