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Chicago Amends Ban the Box Ordinance Effective Immediately

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The City of Chicago passed amendments (click to view pdf) to its long-standing ban the box ordinance, which took effect immediately. 

Chicago’s amendments bring the city’s ban the box law largely into alignment with existing Illinois state law. However, Chicago’s ban the box law now applies to all employers within the city whereas the Illinois state law only applies to employers with 15 or more employees.

Criminal History Use

Under the amended law, employers may not use a person’s conviction record to refuse to hire or otherwise impact an employment-related decision unless: (1) applicable law excludes applicants with certain criminal convictions from the position; (2) standard fidelity bond or equivalent is required for the relevant position and an applicant’s conviction for a specified criminal offense(s) would disqualify them from obtaining such a bond; (3) there is a substantial relationship between the criminal offense(s) and the employment held or sought; or (4) the granting or continuation of employment involves an unreasonable risk to property or to the safety of individuals or the general public.

To determine if there is a “substantial relationship," employers must consider specific factors that mirror the statewide requirements: 

(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 individual at the time of the conviction; and
(6)    evidence of rehabilitation efforts.

Adverse Action Impact 

There is a similar impact to the adverse action process as under the Illinois state law as well, although employers who are in compliance with the statewide law must consider updating their adverse action form to make reference to the candidate’s right to file a complaint with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations. 

If the employer preliminarily decides the conviction record may disqualify the individual based on its analysis of the above factors, it must notify the individual of this preliminary decision in writing.

This notification must include: 

  • The conviction(s) that is the basis for the preliminary decision and the employer’s reasoning for the disqualification,
  • A copy of the conviction record (if any) and
  • An explanation of the individual’s right to respond to the notice prior to a final decision. This shall include informing the individual that they may submit evidence challenging the accuracy of the conviction record that is the basis for the disqualification, or evidence of mitigation such as rehabilitation. 

The employer must then allow at least five (5) business days for the individual to respond prior to making a final decision and must consider any information provided to them by the individual. If the adverse decision becomes final based on the individual’s criminal history, the employer must provide written notice of that final decision including again specifying the disqualifying conviction(s) and the employer’s reasoning, along with any existing procedure the employer has for challenging the decision or requesting reconsideration, and the right of the individual to file a charge with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations.

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