An employer cannot ask you about arrests on a job application. They can only ask whether you have been convicted of a criminal offense. If your entire record has been sealed or expunged, you may answer "no" to the question "Have you ever been convicted of a crime?”
If you have convictions that you could not seal because they were ineligible, or were subject to a waiting period, you must still disclose those convictions.
Ban the box
Illinois, the City of Chicago, and other municipalities have passed what are called “Ban the Box” laws. This stops some employers from asking job applicants if they've ever been convicted. However, there are exceptions:
- Illinois' “ban the box” law only applies to private employers with 15 or more employees. In the City of Chicago, the law applies to employers of any size.
- Chicago and Illinois’ “ban the box” laws do not apply to employers that do fingerprint-based background checks, like schools, park districts, and healthcare organizations. The laws also do not apply for jobs that require an EMS license, or a fidelity bond.
Employers can ask about your criminal record after the initial application when you are:
- Scheduled for an interview, or
- Provided a conditional offer of employment.
For violations of the City of Chicago ordinance, file a complaint with Chicago’s Commission on Human Relations. For violations of the Illinois Ban the Box law, you file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Labor.
Updated: June 2017