Report: Illinois’ hiring protections ‘minimal’ for those with criminal records

A tangle of other laws restrict people with criminal records from obtaining state licenses to practice certain occupations, such as nursing.

News Story (Illinois)

Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz
Chicago Tribune
April 26, 2016

Organizations mentioned/involved: National Employment Law Project (NY), Cabrini Green Legal Aid (Chicago) (CGLA)


With a quarter of U.S. workers required to have state licenses to do their jobs, according to a White House report released last year, such restrictions present a major obstacle to the estimated one-third of Americans with criminal records, according to the National Employment Law Project. There are more than 27,000 state occupational licensing restrictions that penalize those with a record, the advocacy group said, citing information from the American Bar Association.

“It’s just a mess out there,” said Michelle Natividad Rodriguez, senior staff attorney at the employment law nonprofit. “These laws are all over the place,” and there are not strong enough unifying laws to help people navigate them, she said.

The advocacy group released a report Tuesday that analyzed such unifying state laws that aim to ensure fairness in hiring of applicants with records, such as by prohibiting state licensing rules from having a blanket rejection of applicants with criminal histories.