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Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C.
630-472-9700Available 24/7

Illinois Ban the Box Legislation to Open Employment Avenues for Former Offenders

Posted on in Criminal Defense

ban the box legislationOne of our clients’ most common worries is about how a criminal conviction could affect their ability to get a job in the future. Conventional wisdom tells us that certain types of criminal records may be easily discoverable during the hiring process and may act as a proverbial kiss of death for employment prospects. Both private employers and employers for state, local, and federal governments may outwardly ask candidates if they have ever been convicted as a crime. Some organizations even run background checks on job candidates. In one referenced study, 96 percent of Human Resource professionals polled said that their companies ran background checks on possible candidates.

It is clear that it is not self-resolve stopping many criminal offenders, especially those who have served jail time, from returning to a productive life. Structural obstacles are a very real impediment to reintegration. Fortunately, Illinois legislators seem to be recognizing this often draconian trend and are working to change it.

What is Ban the Box Legislation?

A growing number of states are enacting “ban the box” legislation. This legislation prevents employers from including a box on job applications that ask applicants if they have ever been convicted of a crime. Illinois and seven other states have removed this crime question from state and public job applications. In addition, on July 19th, Governor Pat Quinn approved the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act, which prevents employers with over 15 employees and employment agencies from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history in early stages of the application process. This way, qualified applicants with criminal histories may not be screened away based only on paper applications without having a chance to sell themselves and tell their stories to prospective employers.

Employers can, however, check an applicant’s background any time after the applicant has been notified that he or she has been selected for a job interview. In addition, the law excludes a limited number of jobs from the check-the-box requirement such as some jobs involving child care and emergency medical services. The law goes into effect January 1, 2015.

As another form of protection available to Illinois job seekers, the Illinois Human Rights Act has long prevented employers from using other types of criminal trouble from impacting hiring decisions. Employers cannot use evidence of an applicant’s prior arrest or expunged criminal history as a reason for declining to hire the applicant.

Let Us Help You Expunge Your Record

At Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. we are keenly aware of the adverse effect a prior conviction may have on one’s employment prospects, and we do all we can during pre-trial and plea bargaining stages to minimize long-term consequences of criminal trouble. We also work with clients to obtain an expungementof convictions already entered into one’s criminal records. It is one of our primary goals to approach our clients’ legal problems in forward-thinking and creative ways to examine all possible criminal defense options. Contact one of our experienced Illinois criminal defense attorneys today at 630-472-9700 to learn if our services may be beneficial to you or a loved one.

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