Chicago Bans the Box and More

By Michael Klazema on 1/16/2015

The City of Chicago recently passed an ordinance, number 02014-8347, that expands the State’s law within the city limits.

The City’s ordinance expands the coverage of the State’s restrictions to private employers that are licensed in Chicago or maintain a business facility within the city limits and have fewer than 15 employees. Employers subject to the ordinance, like those subject to the state law, may not inquire about, consider or require disclosure of an applicant’s criminal record or criminal history until after the applicant has been determined qualified for the position and notified that he or she will be interviewed, or after a conditional offer of employment is made if no interview is conducted. It has broader reach than the state law because it requires employers, regardless of size, to notify applicants if they were not selected for employment on the basis of their criminal history, whether entirely or partially.

The city ordinance has the same limited exceptions as the state law. They are:

  • When an employer is required to exclude applicants with certain criminal convictions from employment due to federal or state law;
  • When a fidelity bond or equivalent bond is required and an applicant’s conviction or one or more specified criminal offenses would disqualify the applicant from obtaining a bond. In this case, an employer may include a question or otherwise inquire whether the applicant has ever been convicted of any of these offenses; or
  • Employers that employ individuals licensed under the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) System Act.

The City of Chicago’s Commission on Human Relations has authority to assess fines for violations of the ordinance ranging from $ 100 to $1,000 for each offense, as well as, possible license discipline.

The ordinance also applies to a number of city agencies, and went into effect January 1, 2015.

Go here to view the City of Chicago Ordinance File 0214-8347:

What this update means for you:

  • The City of Chicago made it illegal to inquire about criminal history prior to the conclusion of the first interview or until after a conditional offer of employment is made (with some exceptions).
  • The City of Chicago places additional requirements on employers when a decision not to hire is made, based entirely or partially, on the applicants criminal history.
  • You should determine whether you have employees in the Chicago city limits.
  • If you do, review your employment application and the timing of your background checks with your lawyer.
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