Illinois Amends the Illinois Human Rights Act

March 30, 2021 Accurate Background

Governor Pritzker signed SB1480 (“Bill”), which amends the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) and provides employers additional restrictions as it relates to considering criminal convictions in their hiring decisions.  The Bill was signed, and went into Law effect immediately, on March 23, 2021.  In addition to reading the Bill, you may also review the Frequently Asked Questions  provided by the Illinois Department of Human Rights for additional guidance.

The Basics

Location: Illinois

Legislation:  SB1480

Type: Ban the Box 

Effective: March 23, 2021 

Key Takeaways

  • It is a civil rights violation for an employer to use a conviction record as a basis to refuse to hire unless: (1) there is substantial relationship to the position sought or held or (2) it would involve an unreasonable risk to property or to the public.
  • Employers have additional responsibilities, as noted below, related to the adverse action process. 

Can an employer consider all criminal offenses when making a hiring decision?

No.  It is a civil rights violation for an employer, employment agency or labor organization to use a conviction record as a basis to refuse to hire, to segregate, or to act with respect to recruitment, hiring, promotion, renewal of employment, selection for training or apprenticeship, discharge, discipline, tenure or terms, privileges or conditions of employment unless:

(1) there is a substantial relationship between one or more of the previous criminal offenses and the employment sought or held; or

(2) the granting or continuation of the employment would involve an unreasonable risk to property or to the safety or welfare of specific individuals or the general public.

In addition, employers shall consider the following factors in making a determination:

(1) the length of time since the conviction;

(2) the number of convictions that appear on the conviction record;

(3) the nature and severity of the conviction and its relationship to the safety and security of others;

(4) the facts or circumstances surrounding the conviction;

(5) the age of the employee at the time of the conviction; and

(6) evidence of rehabilitation efforts.

Can an employer take adverse action based on a criminal offense?

If, after conducting an interactive assessment and considering the above factors, an employer makes a preliminary decision that the employee’s criminal conviction disqualifies the individual, the employer must notify the individual.  Prior to making a final decision, the employer must provide written notification, which shall include:  

(a) notice of the disqualifying conviction or convictions that are the basis for the preliminary  decision and the employer's reasoning for the disqualification;

(b) a copy of the conviction history report; and

(c) an explanation of the employee's right to respond to the notice of the employer's preliminary decision before that decision becomes final. The explanation shall inform the employee that the response may include, but is not limited to, submission of evidence challenging the accuracy of the conviction record that is the basis for the disqualification, or evidence in mitigation, such as rehabilitation.

After considering the information submitted by the employee, if any, and the employer makes a final decision to disqualify the employee, even in part, due to their conviction record, the employer must provide written notification to the employee including the following:

(a)  notice of the disqualifying conviction or convictions that are the basis for the final decision and the employer's reasoning for the disqualification;

(b) any existing procedure the employer has for the employee to challenge the decision or request reconsideration; and

(c) the right to file a charge with the Department.

Are there any exceptions?

This law shall not be “deemed to diminish the rights, privileges, or remedies of an employee of a business under any other federal or State law, rule, or regulation or under any employment contract.”

Recommendations

We recommend employers review and discuss with your legal counsel your organization’s policies and procedures to ensure continued compliance with the changing laws and regulations.

 

Please note:  The information provided above is strictly for educational purposes.  It is not intended to be legal advice, either expressed or implied.  Accurate Background recommends that you consult with your legal counsel regarding all employment regulations.

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