Illinois’ and Chicago’s “ban the box” laws took effect on January 1. Both laws prohibit private employers from making criminal inquiries until after an applicant has been notified of his or her selection for an interview (where the employer does not conduct an interview, it must wait until after making a conditional offer). The two laws also contain similar exceptions and penalties (see our prior alert and post for more details).

The city ordinance does go two steps further than its state counterpart. First, while the Illinois law only applies to private employers with fifteen or more employees, the Chicago ordinance covers all private businesses in the city. Second, where an employer “makes a decision not to hire an applicant based, entirely or partially, on the applicant’s criminal history,” the Chicago ordinance expressly requires the employer to “inform the applicant of this basis at the time he is informed of the decision.”

This is not the first time that both Illinois and Chicago have regulated the hiring process. A few years ago, both the state and city prohibited (with exceptions) employers from inquiring into or otherwise considering credit history in hiring and personnel decisions.