Running Background Checks When Hiring: What to Know Before You Deny Employment

Conviction record? NOT Hired!


Not so fast. 


Gone are the days of denying employment for stacking boxes on the end of the production line because of a drunk driving conviction from 6 years ago.

Whether or not to run a background check before bringing someone into your company is up to you. Whether you do the hiring directly or if you outsource your teams to a Staffing Agency, you need to be consistent and you need to know what your state’s laws are. 

Illinois already put into law the Ban-the-Box in 2014 which prohibited the inquiry of past convictions on an application or prior to an offer of employment. Now it has taken this a major step further by passing SB 1480 which amends the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) by not allowing an employer to deny employment because of prior convictions a Civil Rights Violation unless:

  1. There is a substantial relationship between one or more of the previous criminal offenses and the employment sought or held; or

  2. The granting or continuation of the employment would involve an unreasonable risk to property or the safety or welfare of specific individuals or the general public.

The law then goes on to state that employers or agents would be required to consider these factors if leaning towards a denial or adverse action:

  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 employee at the time of the conviction; and

  6. Evidence of rehabilitation efforts.

And then if after assessing all of the above a preliminary decision is made for disqualification, there are notification requirements and timelines that must be followed.

Illinois is just one of 14 states that have fair-chance laws in the private employment sectors helping ex-offenders have an opportunity to find work based on qualifications first, according to the National Employment Law Project (NELP). And many more states, cities, and counties are following suit with similar legislation.


With XCEL as your staffing partner, the onus is on us. Our teams are happy to discuss with you your concerns and requirements, and then to make sure that together we find you the most qualified candidates to fit your needs.

Contact us today to see how we can help you.