CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation to help ex-offenders secure employment in the private sector and become productive members of society. The new law prevents criminal background checks until after an applicant is deemed qualified for a job. Today’s action follows an administrative order the Governor issued last year to ensure the same consideration for those seeking state employment. Today’s bill signing is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to ensure all Illinois’ workers are treated fairly.
“Everyone deserves a second chance when it comes to getting a job,” Governor Quinn said. “This law will help ensure that people across Illinois get a fair shot to reach their full potential through their skills and qualifications, rather than past history. It will also help reduce recidivism, fight poverty and prevent violence in our communities by putting more people back to work.”
House Bill 5701, sponsored by State Representative Rita Mayfield (D-Waukegan) and State Senator Antonio Muñoz (D-Chicago), prohibits a private employer or employment agency from inquiring about or considering an applicant’s criminal history until the applicant has been determined to be qualified for the job and selected for an interview. The new law does not apply to certain jobs where employers must exclude applicants with criminal histories. The legislation, which was recommended by the bipartisan Illinois Employment Restrictions Task Force, is effective January 1, 2015.
“By allowing applicants to undergo the interview process without being judged as unfit for employment because of their background, we will help individuals get back to work, pursue a higher education and become the responsible residents that our state thrives on,” Representative Mayfield said. “I believe this legislation will improve the lives of many residents and give them the opportunities they were previously unable to strive for.”
“Everyone should have the opportunity to be considered for employment,” Senator Munoz said. “This legislation protects people with criminal records from discrimination, gives deserving people a second chance and allows them to be evaluated based on their suitability for a position.”
Governor Quinn has supported and developed programs and signed legislation to give people of all ages a second chance in life. Governor Quinn recently signed legislation to automatically clear arrest records for less serious, non-violent juvenile cases. He also signed a law that broadens the list of sealable felonies and adds criteria for courts to use when deciding whether to grant an expungement.
Last year the Governor signed legislation to create a “second chance probation” option for non-violent offenders that allows a conviction to be cleared from a defendant’s record upon successful completion of at least a two-year period of probation. He also signed bills to streamline the criminal record expungement and sealing process, and to give the courts discretion or jurisdiction to seal non-conviction records in felony arrests and charges.
In 2013, Governor Quinn issued an administrative order to “ban the box,” prohibiting state agencies from asking job applicants about their criminal history before beginning to evaluate the individual’s knowledge, skills and abilities. In 2010, he launched the Summit of Hope events to provide assistance to ex-offenders to help them reintegrate safely into society. Since 2010 nearly 80 events have been held across the state serving over 16,000 ex-offenders.