Chicago Ban the Box Law Update

By Kris Janisch
Published July 11, 2023

Chicago Ban the Box Law Update

Employers that operate in the Windy City should be aware of the Chicago ban the box update and ensure hiring managers understand the new requirements, which went into effect in the spring of 2023.

Chicago Ban the Box Law Update

Chicago has updated its ban the box law, with several new requirements for employers to note.

The amendments went into effect at the end of April 2023, more closely aligning the Chicago ordinance with a similar state law.

In Illinois, its ban the box law was updated in 2021. Since then, employers cannot disqualify a job applicant or employee with a record unless there is a “substantial relationship” to the position, which requires an assessment of the role and applicant, as well as other items.

Now, Chicago employers must take similar steps before taking adverse action against an applicant. (Although there are exceptions for certain types of jobs.)

Ban the Box: Updates and State Laws

Chicago Ban the Box Update

For starters, the Chicago ban the box law has been in effect since 2015 and applies to all employers in the city.

Under the Chicago ban the box update, employers must consider whether the job creates conditions for the same or a similar offense to occur, as well as other factors, including:

  • The length of time since the conviction
  • The number of convictions
  • 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
  • Evidence of rehabilitation efforts

Even after completing an assessment, there are other steps employers must take to comply with the updated Chicago ban the box law.

First, if an employer has qualms about hiring a person because of their criminal history, the organization must notify the individual in writing. That notice must contain:

  • Convictions that led to the preliminary decision and the employer’s reasoning
  • A copy of the conviction record, if any
  • An explanation that the applicant has a chance to respond

Then, the employee has at least five business days to respond.

Once that happens, employers can make a final decision. If a company opts to take adverse action based on the applicant’s criminal past, the employer must again provide notice to the person. Such notice must include:

  • Notice of the disqualifying conviction or convictions, as well as other information that led to the decision
  • Existing procedure, if any, for the applicant or employee to challenge the decision or request a reconsideration
  • The right to file a complaint with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations

As a reminder, the Chicago ban the box ordinance is aimed at restricting organizations’ use of criminal records in pre-employment screening.

Illinois Pay Transparency Law

Employment Law Compliance

Gone are the days of a handful of federal employment laws to consider.

Legislation continues to grow and evolve. And it’s not simply labor law posters, minimum wage and paid leave. From hair discrimination laws to protections for recreational marijuana use, large employers have plenty to consider. That spans hiring laws such as ban the box to payout of unused vacation time upon separation.

Plus, existing laws continue to be updated, whether through tweaks to language of statutes or government officials handing down additional guidance.

Meanwhile, there has also been a rise of class-action lawsuits in employment law, and the current presidential administration has been aggressive in investigating employers suspected of violations.

The complexities of employment law compliance have never been more challenging for employers.


Employers that operate in the Windy City should be aware of the Chicago ban the box update and ensure hiring managers understand the new requirements, which went into effect in the spring of 2023.

This Employment Law News blog is intended for market awareness only, it is not to be used for legal advice or counsel.

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