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May 2023: Chicago, IL Expands Requirements for Criminal History Screenings

17 May


Update Applicable to:

All employers in the City of Chicago

What happened?

Although the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) had been previously amended, now on April 24, 2023, the City of Chicago published an amended ban-the-box ordinance that takes immediate effect. Chicago’s new ordinance: (1) creates a new individualized assessment requirement; (2) requires a pre-adverse and final adverse action notice when employers are assessing criminal records; and (3) requires additional language in an adverse action notice.

What are the details?

The new Chicago ban-the-box ordinance imposes three new key requirements on employers. First, an employer may base an adverse employment action on an individual’s criminal conviction record only if (1) there is a “substantial relationship” between the individual’s criminal offense(s) and the job sought or held; or (2) based on the individual’s criminal offense(s), the employer believes that the individual poses an unreasonable risk to the property or safety of the company’s workforce, customers, or members of the public. In making this determination, the employer must perform an “individualized assessment” and consider several mitigating factors, including:

  • the length of time since the conviction;
  • the number of convictions that appear on the conviction record;
  • the nature and severity of the conviction and its relationship to the safety and security of others;
  • the facts or circumstances surrounding the conviction;
  • the age of the employee at the time of the conviction; and
  • evidence of rehabilitation efforts.

In addition, the amended ordinance also requires that employers provide a “pre-adverse action notice” and “final adverse action notice” to any individual subject to an adverse employment decision on the basis of criminal history whether the criminal history information comes from a background report, the candidate, or both. Also, employers must (1) include the employer’s specific reasoning for the disqualification from employment within both the pre-adverse action notice and final adverse action notice; and (2) state within their final adverse action notice that the individual has the right to file a charge within the Chicago Commission on Human Relations.

For more information, please see the links below:

Amended Ordinance

What do employers need to do?

Chicago and multi-state employers with employees in Chicago should ensure that their current job application complies with applicable law, including the City’s amendment of their ordinance.  Multistate employers must update their adverse action notice to include a statement that Chicago residents have the right to file a charge with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations. Employers operating in Chicago should review their background screening policies and ensure that these new requirements are followed.

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This communication is intended solely for the purpose of conveying information. The present post might incorporate hyperlinks directing readers to websites managed by third-party entities. The inclusion of any links within this communication is meant to serve as points of reference and could encompass opinion articles from various law firms, articles from HR associations, official websites, news releases, and documents of government agencies, and other relevant third-party sources. Vensure has no authority over these external websites and bears no responsibility for their content. Furthermore, Vensure does not endorse the materials present on these websites. The contents of this communication should not be interpreted as legal advice or as a legal standpoint concerning specific facts or scenarios. Nor should it be deemed an exhaustive compilation of facts potentially pertinent to federal, state, or local laws. It is strongly advised that employers solicit legal guidance from an employment attorney when undertaking actions in response to any legal updates provided. This is due to the possibility of future alterations occurring in federal, state, and local laws, regulations, as well as the directives and guidelines issued by governing agencies. These changes may transpire at any given time, potentially rendering certain portions of the content within this update void or inaccurate.

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