Commissioner Steele Introduces Ban the Box Amendment

Commissioner Steele Introduces Ban the Box Amendment

Commissioner Robert Steele and Anthony Lowery, Director, Policy & Advocacy for Safer Foundation
Commissioner Robert Steele and Anthony Lowery, Director, Policy & Advocacy for Safer Foundation


Recently at the Cook County Board Meeting, Commissioner Robert Steele introduced the Ban the Box amendment to the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance which was unanimously passed by the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

The Ban the Box amendment addresses employment discrimination based on criminal history. Specifically, it will prohibit employers with fewer than 15 employees from inquiring about an employee’s criminal history until a specific point in the hiring process. Anthony Lowery, Director, Policy & Advocacy for Safer Foundation testified at the County Board meeting in support of the Ban the Box amendment.

Since 1998, over 100 cities and counties nationwide and a total of 18 states representing almost every region of the country have adopted the “Ban the Box” policy removing the conviction history question on their job applications.

On January 1, 2015, the State of Illinois passed the Ban the Box law. They also became one of seven states which removed the conviction history question on job applications for private employers. The City of Chicago also passed the Ban the Box Ordinance amending the City of Chicago Human Rights Ordinance.

The Ban the Box policy has been endorsed federally by EEOC in 2012 when it issued its 2012 EEOC Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Guide stated that employer best practices should
Eliminate policies or practices that exclude people from employment based on any criminal record

Questions about criminal records should be limited to inquiries for which exclusion would be job related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity.
The Ban the Box policy gives formerly incarcerated individuals who have served their time and are trying to re-enter the workforce second chance opportunities for employment instead of automatically having the door slammed in their faces before employers even review their qualifications or meet them.

Commissioner Robert Steele said, “I believed Cook County should join the State of Illinois, City of Chicago as well as the other municipalities by taking the Fair Chance Pledge.

  • To open up opportunities for people with past convictions in our workplace
  • To welcome people back to our community after their release from jail or prison
  • To institute fair hiring practices concerning past convictions
  • To eliminate any restrictions on membership, volunteer or Board participation that may exclude people with arrest or conviction history
    “I urge every business to take the Fair Chance Pledge to ensure applicants are considered based on their qualifications and merit and not immediately excluded from consideration based on their criminal history,” declared Commissioner Steele.

By passage of the Ban the Box amendment, Cook County is now in line with other municipalities.

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