If you have experienced employment discrimination as a result of your criminal record, you don’t have to accept this as part of your punishment for once being charged with breaking the law. Contact the sharp Chicago employment discrimination attorneys at Foote, Mielke, Chavez & O’Neil, LLC (FMCO). We will fight aggressively for your right to work by filing a lawsuit against any employer who unfairly denies you that right.
It is estimated that as many as one in three Americans has been incarcerated. This staggering statistic disproportionately includes communities of color. Having a criminal record can derail lives at a young age as well as disrupt and impoverish families. Apart from the general stigma attached to having a criminal record, those who have been arrested and/or incarcerated are widely discriminated against by potential employers.
What Our Capable Employment Discrimination Attorneys Will Do to Help
At FMCO, we are committed to the idea that you deserve a second chance and are entitled to fair treatment in the job market. If a potential employer has illegally discriminated against you, we will sue for the damages you need and deserve to get back in the game.
We will thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the employer’s discrimination, interview witnesses, gather evidence (e.g. letters, texts, emails), and use our well-documented skills to craft a strategy powerful enough to win you just compensation. In negotiations with the opposing attorney, or if necessary through a courtroom trial, we will fight to recover damages for your lost income and emotional anguish.
This Time the Law Is on Your Side
While employers have a right to be wary of candidates with criminal records, by law they have to give every applicant a fair break. The following laws may help support your arrest record discrimination claims:
Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”)
The IHRA was amended in March 2021 to make it a state civil rights violation for employers to use an individual’s criminal conviction record in any employment decision, unless there is a substantial relationship between the offense and the individual’s employment, or hiring or continuing to employ the individual would pose an unreasonable risk to the property or the safety of others. Before taking adverse employment action based in whole or in part on an individual’s conviction record, employers must provide written notice to the individual identifying the conviction record as the basis for its employment decision, providing a copy of the conviction history report and explaining its reasoning. The employer must also notify the individual (employee or applicant) that they have at least five (5) business days to respond. Those interested in pursuing claims against an employer or prospective employer must first file a charge of discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights: https://dhr.illinois.gov/conviction-record-protection-frequently-asked-questions.html
Illinois’s “Ban-the-Box Law” makes it illegal for private employers with more than 15 employees to include questions about criminal history on a written job application or to ask an applicant for such information verbally before determining that the candidate has the necessary credentials and experience for the job. Illinois state law also prohibits employers from asking about arrests that did not lead to conviction or records that have been sealed or expunged.
The Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) limits reporting on any criminal arrests that did not result in a conviction if they occurred more than 7 years ago unless the position being advertised pays a salary of $75,000 or more. The FCRA also obligates employers seeking criminal records to:
- Get the applicant’s written consent ahead of time.
- Take reasonable steps to confirm the accuracy of the report
- Give the applicant a copy of the report.
- Tell the applicant if the employer intends to disqualify them because of the report’s contents
- Notify the applicant of a failure to hire based on the report
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also protects employees from discrimination in all aspects of employment, including not only hiring but screening practices. The Civil Rights Act takes into account the disproportionate number of African Americans and Latinos with criminal records. It requires that any company policy regarding hiring those with criminal records must be equally applied to all applicants.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) instructs employers to avoid discrimination by differentiating various candidates with criminal records by considering:
- The nature and severity of the crime
- The length of time since the offense
- The age of the candidate at the time the offense was committed
- The relevance of the crime to this particular job’s duties
The EEOC also states that applicants should be given an opportunity to explain the circumstances of their arrest and conviction.
Contact Our Accomplished Employment Discrimination Attorneys Today
If you are facing discrimination in your job hunt or if you are being offered less pay or worse working conditions because of your criminal record, don’t let yourself be bullied. Get in touch with FMCO. We will stand up for you and fight for your right to earn a decent living. We will provide you with the superior legal representation and respect you deserve and do everything in our power to recover meaningful damages.