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Illinois State Background Check Laws

Although Illinois doesn’t have a statewide law similar to the FCRA, it does have both state and local Ban the Box and Fair Chance legislation. At the state level, employers with 15 or more employees are prohibited from inquiring into or requiring disclosure of criminal history until a job applicant has been determined to be fully qualified for a position and has been referred for an interview, at which point a background check can be requested.

If there is no interview, a background check in Illinois can be conducted after a conditional offer of employment. This law doesn’t apply if other state or federal laws require that people with certain types of criminal convictions are barred from employment in Illinois, where a standard bond is required and cannot be obtained due to the conviction, and positions requiring licensure under the EMS Systems Act.

Under the statewide, and Chicago laws, employers are permitted to notify job applicants, in writing, of the specific types of criminal offenses that will disqualify them from being employed in a given position.

Credit checks cannot be included in background check reports in the State of Illinois under either of these two jurisdictions, unless a “bona fide occupational requirement” has been established, such as if the position involves unsupervised access to $2,500 or more in cash, or if the position is managerial in nature, directing business operations and investments.

No hiring, firing or disciplinary determinations can be made on the basis of a credit report, other than these specific exceptions where creditworthiness is integral to the position.

Employers will be charged with a civil rights violation if they inquire into expunged, sealed, or impounded criminal records, or use such records to refuse to hire, or in any other way impact a job applicant’s ability to seek gainful employment during the recruitment, hiring, or promotion processes.

Applications for employment must specifically state that the applicant is not required to disclose any information on sealed or expunged records, nor may the employer inquire as to whether such records even exist.

Employers are prohibited from forcing employees or job applicants to reveal in any manner, or provide the employer access to, their individual social media accounts. Nor can an employer take any type of adverse action against any employee who refuses to comply with the employer’s illegal request for such access.

Employers can, however, issue policies regarding employer-issued electronic equipment, including the establishment of policies governing email, social media, and internet use, advising employees and job applicants that these may be monitored without notice.

Chicago, IL

In November 2014, the City Council passed an ordinance that extended the city policy that governed city positions to cover all private employers.

Background checks are delayed until after the candidate is selected for an interview or a conditional offer of employment is made. EEOC criteria will be applied in an individual assessment of the criminal background check information.

Cities Include: Chicago, Aurora, Rockford, Joliet, Naperville, Springfield, Peoria, Elgin, Waukegan and more.

Note: This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult with your own legal counsel for advice related to your state/locality.