On March 23, 2021, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed Senate Bill 1480 (“SB 1480”) into law. SB 1480 amends the Illinois Human Rights Act with respect to hiring considerations, certification of equal pay compliance and EEO-1 reporting. Below is a summary of the key aspects of the law for Illinois employers:

Consideration of Criminal Convictions in Employment Decisions
SB1480 prevents employers from considering criminal convictions when making employment decisions, such as recruiting, hiring, promoting, selecting for training, and disciplining, unless the employer can demonstrate a substantial relationship between the conviction and the individual’s job or that employing the individual would pose an unreasonable safety risk to property, specific individuals or the public. A “conviction record” includes conviction of a “felony, misdemeanor, or other criminal offense, placed on probation, fined, imprisoned or paroled pursuant to any law enforcement or military authority.”

In evaluating “substantial relationship” an employer may consider:
• “The length of time since conviction;
• The number of convictions that appear on the individuals conviction record;
• The nature and severity of the conviction and its relationship to the safety and security of others;
• The facts or circumstances surrounding the conviction;
• The age of the employee at the time of the conviction; and
• Evidence supporting rehabilitation efforts.”

If an employer chooses not to hire an individual or takes an adverse action against an employee based on a past conviction, the employer must first engage in an “interactive assessment” with the employee or individual. An “interactive assessment” requires the employer to notify the individual of its preliminary decision in writing, and then consider any information submitted by the individual before making a final decision.

Note that there may be other legal obligations that require an employer to disqualify/terminate an employee based on a criminal offense. For example, the Illinois Health Care Worker Background Check Act outlines a number of offenses that would disqualify an individual for employment. There is nothing in the amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act that would prohibit an employer from following these other legal obligations.

EEO-1 Reporting Requirements
Employers that are required to file an Employer Information Report EEO-1 with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (i.e. those with at least 100 employees) must file a similar report with the Illinois Secretary of State that is similar to information reported under Section D of the Federal EEOC form. The Illinois Secretary of State intends to publish data on gender, race, and ethnicity on its website. The reporting requirement applies to corporate reports filed on or after January 1, 2023.

Certification of Equal Pay Compliance
Private employers with more than 100 employees in Illinois must obtain an equal pay registration certificate by paying a filing fee and submitting an Employer Information Report EEO-1 for each county in which the business has employees or a facility. In addition, the business must provide a list of all employees during a calendar year separated by gender and race and ethnic categories as required by the EEO-1 Form, and report total wages paid to each employee.
Existing corporations must obtain certificates within three years, and new corporations must obtain certificates within three years after commencing operations. Recertification is required every two years.

Whistleblowing Protections
SB1480 also includes broad whistleblower protections that favor employees, by defining “adverse employment action” as including “reprimand, discharge, suspension, demotion, denial of promotion or transfer, or change in the terms and conditions of employment….” This broad language prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee for making claims or statements relating to the failure to follow this Act, or discloses or testifies relating to violations of a law or regulation.

Please reach out to your Lashly & Baer attorney if you have any questions about the amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act.

Prepared By:
Julie Z. Devine
Phone: 314-436-8329
Email: jdevine@lashlybaer.com

James C. Hetlage
Phone: 314-436-8322
Email: jhetlage@lashlybaer.com

Alexandra S. Sievers
Phone: 314-436-8361
Email: asievers@lashlybaer.com

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