Chicago job applicants with a felony or misdemeanor on their record will no longer be required to include their criminal history on job applications under the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act. Known as the “ban the box” measure, for the box on job applications that asks applicants to check whether they have ever been convicted of a crime, the new law is expected to be signed by the governor and go into effect January 1, 2015.
Illinois Employers Prohibited From Inquiring about Criminal History
The law prohibits employers with more than 15 employees from asking potential employees on the job application whether they have a criminal history. Instead, employers may only ask about a potential employee’s criminal history at the job interview or when a conditional offer of employment is made, if there were no interviews. Employers are also prohibited from conducting background checks on potential employees until the interview or job offer phase.
The new law is a necessary protection for job applicants with a criminal history, especially those convicted of non-violent crimes or crimes when they were very young and immature. Many of these individuals never get past the application stage, despite being qualified for the job, simply because of the hiring committee’s prejudice against ex-inmates.
The law will let qualified individuals proceed to the interview phase, where they will have the opportunity to explain the circumstances that led to their conviction, address the company’s concerns about hiring an ex-prisoner, and prove to the hiring committee that they will be a hard-working, dedicated employee. Studies show that employers who meet with an ex-prisoner are four times more likely to hire them. Without this law, these individuals may never be able to gain meaningful, gainful employment sufficient to support themselves and their family, resulting in higher recidivism rates.
Although definitely a step in the right direction, the law underscores the need for obtaining quality, experienced legal representation from the moment you are arrested and charged with any crime, whether a misdemeanor or felony. Conviction of any crime has consequences that extend beyond prison time, fines and/or probation – it can adversely affect your ability to obtain a job or acquire housing. And while the law prohibits employers from inquiring into your criminal history until the interview phase or when a job offer has been made, it does not prohibit a potential employer from refusing to hire you because of that criminal history.
The only sure way to avoid losing a potential job is to not have a criminal history – and that starts with hiring a tough criminal defense lawyer who can get the charges against you dropped and win an acquittal in court. You want an attorney who knows how to find and exploit the flaws in the prosecution’s case. You want an attorney who works with a team of private investigators and forensic and medical experts to cast doubt on the prosecution’s evidence. With 18 years of experience successfully defending clients against all types of misdemeanors and felonies, you want David L. Freidberg. Continue reading