(Chicago) – As of January 1, 2015, a new Illinois law effectively eliminates questions from private businesses’ job applications about whether applicants have a criminal history.
The law requires an employer or employment agency to wait until an applicant has been selected for an interview or until after a conditional job offer has been extended before inquiring about, considering, or requiring disclosure of criminal history.
House Bill 5701, sponsored by State Representative Rita Mayfield (D-Waukegan) and State Senator Antonio Munoz (D-Chicago), passed the State legislature with bi-partisan support and was signed by Governor Pat Quinn on July 21.
A similar requirement for employment with State government was executed in Illinois in 2013 through executive order.
Prospects for economic stability are often severely hampered by a criminal record, which remains in place long after a probation or prison sentence is served. These records regularly come with a lifelong struggle to find a job.
“Each year, thousands of motivated men and women throughout Illinois are denied consideration for jobs before they are interviewed and before their qualifications are evaluated, often because they had to check the box next to a question asking if they have a criminal record,” said TASC President Pamela Rodriguez. “This is no small problem. One in four adults in the U.S. has a criminal record.”
Research shows that the negative effects of a criminal record are significantly more pronounced for African Americans, and that personal contact appears to mitigate the negative impact of a criminal record.
Several other states have enacted similar “Ban the Box” laws, including Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.