The Chicago Employment Law Blog

Illinois Employment Background Check Laws

In this age of the World Wide Web, you may assume that no information is private. Besides the information we voluntarily share on social media sites like Facebook or LinkedIn, other personal information like criminal or financial information may also be publicly available.

So can a prospective employer use whatever it finds online in its hiring decision? The answer is a resounding "no" as Illinois background check laws ensure that employers cannot use certain information in its hiring decision, even if the information is publicly available.

The following records are have limits for employers:

  • Criminal Records. Generally, employers cannot factor in the fact that someone has been arrested in the employment decision. However, in some situations, employers may consider the fact that someone was convicted of the crime. Employers must be very careful whenever using arrest or conviction information in the employment decision as this can lead to discrimination lawsuits and other problems.
  • Educational Records. College transcripts may be relevant to a job application, but employers should first receive the applicant’s consent before getting these records.
  • Military Records. These records are considered confidential under the federal Privacy Act and should not be used in the hiring decision.
  • Bankruptcy. Bankruptcy filings may be a matter of public record, but employers may not consider these.
  • Medical Records. Medical records or workers’ compensation history should only be used if relevant to the job. Otherwise, these records are likely confidential.

Under the Illinois background check laws, just because your personal information may be publicly available does not mean that employers can consider all of it.

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