Illinois Passes Employee Background Fairness Act

Employers with employees in Illinois should review their procedures to ensure compliance

With the signature of Governor J.B. Pritzker on March 23rd, Illinois enacted the Employee Fairness Act into law. The state now joins a national trend aimed at changing the way employers use criminal records in the hiring process.

The new law modifies the Illinois Human Rights Act, and bans the use of criminal conviction records in employment decisions unless there is a substantial relationship between the offense and the position the applicant is being considered for. If an employer determines there is a sufficient relationship or a safety risk, they must first perform what is known as an “individualized assessment” to consider additional factors such as:

  • the length of time since the conviction,
  • the number of convictions that appear on the record,
  • the nature & severity of the conviction,
  • the facts or circumstances surrounding the conviction;
  • the age of the employee (or applicant) at the time of the conviction; and
  • evidence of rehabilitation efforts.

In 2012, the EEOC issued similar guidance on the employer use of criminal records, but guidance is not the same as law. This legislation goes further by codifying the requirements.  Employers with existing staff in Illinois, or who may hire there, must take steps to adjust their policies to ensure compliance.

For more information, read the FAQ from the Illinois Department of Human Rights



Fair Screen is a background screening company dedicated to helping employers fairly use criminal records in the hiring process. Contact Us to learn more about how a well-tuned screening process can speed the time to hire, include more job applicants, and help ensure your consistency and compliance. Help us make a difference!