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SB 1480 Limits Employers' Use of Criminal Convictions When Making Job-Related Decisions in IL


Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed Senate Bill 1480 into law on March 23, 2021, making several significant changes to the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA). One of those provisions is that employers in the state may not use a person’s criminal record when making any adverse job-related decisions unless (1) there is a “substantial relationship” between one or more of the prior crimes and the job itself or (2) there is an unreasonable risk to the safety of others or property if the employee is given or keeps his/her job. 

According to the IHRA, a substantial relationship is defined as any opportunity for the employee or job applicant to commit the same or similar offense while performing his/her job duties. When evaluating the substantial relationship, an employer must consider the length of time since the person was convicted, the number of convictions on the individual’s record, the nature and seriousness of the conviction and how it relates to others’ safety and security, the age of the person when he/she was convicted, the facts and circumstances of the conviction, and any evidence of rehabilitation. 

If an employer chooses to disqualify someone from employment or otherwise takes any adverse action due to a person’s criminal record, the employer must undergo an “interactive assessment” prior to taking any action. The employer must provide a written notice—which addresses the disqualifying conviction and incudes the reason behind the disqualification—to the employee or job applicant.  

In turn, the work or applicant has five (5) business days to respond to the notice. The employer will then consider any information submitted by the individual. 

If an employer ultimately decides to disqualify or take any adverse action, the employer must take the following steps: 

  • Notify the employee or applicant about the disqualifying conviction and the reasoning behind the decision 

  • Inform the individual of any existing procedure to challenge the decision or request reconsideration 

  • Provide notice of the person’s right to file a charge with the IDHR 

Although the new law does not prevent employers from conducting criminal background checks, they must take significant steps to use such information to make any employment decisions. When it comes to federal employment laws, if the use of a criminal record is outside the scope of the law, then the employer must adhere to the IHRA. 

If you are interested in criminal record expungement in Chicago, contact the Law Office of Steven Fine today at (312) 436-0638 for a free case review. Let a former prosecutor with more than 20 years of legal experience help you immediately!