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Heather Jones

If you have a criminal record and you are looking for work, you are probably very concerned about the effect it could have on your job search. It used to be that a potential employer could turn you down flat based on criminal history. In 2021 Illinois signed a new law that protects the rights of convicted criminals now seeking gainful employment. Read on to learn more about working in Illinois with a criminal record.  

Illinois Criminal Background Check

For a potential employer to conduct a criminal background check in Illinois, they simply get online and run a search. While the details of your conviction are not public, Illinois state law requires that criminal convictions be made a part of the public record. Anyone could search for and find your criminal convictions. The only possible way around this potential issue is to have the record expunged, which can be costly and time-consuming, with no guarantees that the record will be expunged. If you are considering asking for expungement, you should consult an experienced Illinois expungement attorney who can advise you if it is possible in your particular situation. The best thing to do, not to mention free, is to prepare to answer questions a potential employer may have about your criminal convictions and to show the potential employer how you have changed your life since you were convicted. Demonstrate to the potential employer that you recognize you made some bad choices and that you have committed to leading your life differently.  For more information on the expungement process in general read our article, How to Expunge Your Criminal Record in Illinois.  


Can I Get a Job in Illinois with a Criminal Record?


The short answer is yes; you can get a job. You might not be able to get the job you want. If an Illinois employer investigates your criminal history and there is a substantial connection between your offense and the job that you are applying for, then it is going to be much harder for you to get the job. For example, if you are a convicted thief and you apply to work at a bank or an auction house, you should probably look for work elsewhere. While this is a simplified example, it shows a substantial relationship between the crime you were convicted of and how it can affect potential jobs. While certain circumstances can be tough getting a job with a criminal record in Illinois, some laws protect you, and you still have rights. In 2021 Illinois enacted the Employee Background Fairness Act. The Employee Background Fairness Act requires a potential employer to look at the following mitigating factors when they consider an applicant's previous criminal history:  


1-how long it has been since the conviction  

2-number of convictions  

3-the severity of the crime and what the crime actually was  

4-the facts and circumstances around the convictions  

5-how old were you at the time  

6-any efforts toward rehabilitation  


The potential employer must notify the applicant in writing that their criminal history is being evaluated, provide the applicant with a copy of the criminal history that the potential employer is using to make their decision, and allow the applicant five days to provide any evidence or information to convince the employer not to pass them by for the job.  


If you are concerned that a potential employer will only do the bare minimum necessary to comply with the law before turning you down, remember this, the penalties that the employer could face are significant. If it is proven in a court of law that the employer did not carefully and seriously adhere to the Act's requirements, they could face punitive damages, front pay, back pay, your attorney's costs and fees, and compensatory damages.  



Do I Have to Disclose my Criminal Record to my Employer in Illinois?


Illinois employers cannot ask about your criminal record until they have established a few things first. To begin, the potential employer must have determined if you are qualified for the position you are applying for. The employer must be sure that you would have a shot at getting the job without considering any past criminal convictions. Then, the employer must want to bring you back for an interview with an eye to see if you continue to be a good potential match for their needs. If the employer does not conduct interviews as a part of the hiring process, a conditional job offer must be extended. All these things must occur before you are asked to disclose to the employer if you have a criminal record.  



If you believe that you have been turned down for a job because of your criminal history and would like to discuss your rights concerning it, feel free to give O'Flaherty Law a call, we would be happy to help you.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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