April 9, 2021
Authored by: Christy Phanthavong
Restrictions on inquiring into, or using, criminal history information are not new to Illinois employers. For years, Illinois employers been precluded from using an applicant’s arrest history when making hiring or other employment decisions. And, in 2015, Illinois joined the list of “ban the box” states by precluding employers with 15+ employees from inquiring into or considering the criminal record or criminal history of an applicant until after the applicant was selected for an interview or had received a conditional offer of employment.
Effective March 23, 2021, the restrictions have tightened again, through amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”), which borrow concepts from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”).
Restricted Use of Conviction Records
The new IHRA provisions make it a civil rights violation for an employer to use a “conviction record” as the basis for any employment decision, including hiring, promotion, discipline and discharge, unless:
- There is a “substantial relationship” between one or more of the previous criminal offenses and the employment sought or held; OR
- The granting or continuation of employment would involve an unreasonable risk to property or to the safety or welfare of specific individuals