Can an Employer Fire You if They Find Out You Have a Criminal Record?

If you’re like many people, you’re concerned that an employer could find out about your criminal history – and then fire you. But is that possible (or legal)? This guide explains.

Can an Employer Fire You if They Find Out You Have a Criminal Record?

In 2021, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law the Employee Background Fairness Act. The act was designed to prohibit employers in Illinois from disqualifying job applicants who have convictions (though there are some exceptions).

But what if your employer didn’t previously know about your conviction, and later discovers it?

The bottom line is that Illinois is considered an at-will state. That means your employer can fire you at any time, for any reason.

If you want to avoid any issues with your criminal record, it may be best to have it sealed or expunged as soon as possible. Generally, employers can’t see records that have been closed off from the public. Two important factors come into play here, though:

  1. Expungement is a process that completely clears your criminal record. In fact, when your record is expunged, it’s like you were never involved with the law at all. The records that exist are either destroyed or returned to you, so there’s nothing for anyone to find.
  2. Sealing is a process that simply closes off your record so that most people can’t see it. However, some people are legally authorized to see sealed records. These people include employees of the court system, law enforcement officers and employers that conduct fingerprint- based background checks.

Related: What happens when your landlord sees your criminal record?

Can You Expunge or Seal Any Record?

The state of Illinois has very strict limits on what you can expunge and seal. Generally, you may not expunge any convictions (though there are some exceptions, such as honorably discharged veterans of the U.S. armed forces who may expunge some Class three and Class 4 felony convictions). if you’ve been convicted of a crime, you’re usually limited to sealing your criminal record. However, not all records are eligible for ceiling. Typically, incidents that involve crimes of violence or drunk driving must remain on your criminal record forever.

The best way to find out whether you can expunge or seal your criminal records so your employer doesn’t discover them is to talk to a criminal record clearing attorney in Chicago. Your attorney can give you the guidance you need after reviewing your records.

Related: What information do you need to expunge or seal your record?

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Expungement or Sealing?

If you’re tired of your criminal past coming back to bite you, we may be able to help. Call us right now at 847-920-4540 or fill out the form below so we can talk about your case.

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