Negligent hiring liability reforms stall in Illinois

Negligent hiring liability reforms stall in Illinois

With the right liability reforms, Illinois can protect businesses and make them more likely to give ex-offenders a chance at employment. Unfortunately, a bill that would have made this reform a reality stalled in the Illinois House of Representatives this session.

A bill that would have promoted employment and combatted recidivism for ex-offenders has stalled in the Illinois House of Representatives.

House Bill 665 would have limited the negligent hiring liability an employer could face for hiring an employee with a nonviolent, nonsexual criminal conviction in his or her past.

Employers are rightly concerned about liability related to hiring, and are often unwilling to hire an ex-offender even if he or she is right for the job because of the risk that comes with that decision. This is one factor that makes it hard for someone with a criminal record to obtain work.

Ex-offenders need the hope that comes with work to turn around their lives and end the vicious cycle of incarceration.

Nearly 50 percent of ex-offenders in Illinois are back in prison within three years.

But a job changes that. Illinois ex-offenders who are employed a year after release can have a recidivism rate as low as 16 percent, according to research from the Safer Foundation.

Illinois offers some negligent hiring liability protection – for employers that hire former offenders who have been issued certificates of relief from disabilities and good conduct, for example. These certificates are issued by courts to former offenders as evidence of the offenders’ rehabilitation. A certificate can make some offenders eligible for certain business and professional licenses, and provides protection from lawsuits for employers that hire the ex-offenders.

Since the Illinois General Assembly’s spring session adjourned at the end of May, the only way HB 665 could move forward is if lawmakers move the bill during a special session and it passes by a three-fifths majority.

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