Update: Illinois Bill Limits Criminal History Consideration for Employment Decisions, Effective March 23, 2021

SB 1480 amends the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) by prohibiting employers from considering criminal conviction records when making employment decisions.

The Illinois General Assembly passed SB 1480 on January 13, 2021, and Legislature sent it to Governor J.B. Pritzker to sign on February 5, 2021. Governor Pritzker has until April 6, 2021 to either sign into law or veto (in whole or part) and return to the Legislature for additional action. If no action is taken, the bill will automatically become law and its criminal conviction nondiscrimination and notification provisions will immediately take effect.

Update: Governor Pritzker signed the bill into law March 23, 2021, and it takes effect immediately.

Employer Requirements

SB 1480 implements new procedures that must be followed if an employer seeks to disqualify an applicant or employee based on a criminal conviction record. The bill will enforce that criminal conviction records cannot be considered when determining employment eligibility, with two notable exceptions. Employers may consider adverse action if:

  • A "substantial relationship" exists between the conviction and the employment, where an employee's position presents opportunity and circumstances to commit similar offenses; or
  • Granting or continuing an individual's employment creates a risk to safety or property to specific individuals or the public.

Employers must also consider the following mitigating factors to determine if a conviction is disqualifying:

  • The length of time since the conviction;
  • The number of convictions represented in the record;
  • The severity of the conviction and its relationship to the safety of others;
  • The circumstances surrounding the conviction;
  • The age of the employee at the time of conviction; and
  • Any evidence of rehabilitation
Finally, before taking any adverse employment action, the employer must interact with the applicant or employee to notify them of the reason for disqualification based on the conviction - similar to the EEOC's enforcement guidance under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. SB 1480 will also require Illinois employers to provide both pre-adverse and adverse action notifications to the employee or applicant and give them a chance to respond.

In addition to the criminal conviction consideration amendment, SB 1480 also implements:

  • A requirement that employers report workforce demographic data for publication on the Secretary of State's website; and
  • A requirement that employers obtain an equal pay certification and certify that they comply with federal and state discrimination and equal pay laws.

How Certiphi Screening Can Help

If the Governor takes no action to veto the bill, the law will go into effect on April 6, 2021. Illinois employers should begin to review and update their background check procedures and forms in anticipation of these changes.

Assuming that Governor Pritzker signs the Bill without changes, Certiphi Screening's system allows employers to include a form or additional information that is required within their pre-adverse and adverse notifications. We are also available to answer any questions clients may have regarding what these changes mean for existing screening processes.

If you have any questions, please contact your sales executive, account manager, or our customer service team.

The full text of the act can be found here: SB 1480

Updated: March 26, 2021

All Rights Reserved © 2021 Certiphi Screening, Inc.
This document and/or presentation is provided as a service to our customers. Its contents are designed solely for informational purposes, and should not be inferred or understood as legal advice or binding case law, nor shared with any third parties. Persons in need of legal assistance should seek the advice of competent legal counsel. Although care has been taken in preparation of these materials, we cannot guarantee the accuracy, currency or completeness of the information contained within it. Anyone using this information does so at his or her own risk.

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