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  • Melissa Dickerson

Illinois Legislation Protects People with Criminal Convictions from Employer Discrimination


Illinois State Rep. Sonya Harper, D-Chicago, answers questions during debate of SB 1480 during the lame-duck session for the Illinois House of Representatives held at the Bank of Springfield Center, Tuesday, January 12, 2021, in Springfield, Ill. [Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register]


Earlier this month, Senate Bill 1480, part of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ package of legislation to root out systemic racism, passed the House and Senate and now requires only a signature from Governor J.B. Pritzker to become law.


The bill would make it a civil-rights violation for an employer to refuse employment based on a conviction record unless there is a “substantial relationship” between the offenses and the position the individual is seeking. Employers would be required to consider the number of convictions, and for each one, the length of time since it happened, its nature and the facts surrounding it, the age of the applicant at the time, and any evidence of rehabilitation. Employers could only disqualify the candidate if the job “offers an opportunity for the same or similar offense to occur” and creates an “unreasonable risk” to property or the public.


The Senate has until February 12, 2021, to send the bill to Governor Pritzker for signature, who then has up to 60 days to act on the bill. The bill will take effect immediately upon the Governor’s signature.

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