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Is refusing to hire someone because they have been convicted of a crime discrimination? where can i find an attorney to help me?

Anna, IL |

I was convicted of a crime, served all of my time, i am not on parole supervised release, or anything else, and have had 97 interviews with company's in the last 19 months, and when they get to a background check they want to tell me that they can't hire me. I had my W2 paperwork signed for one company and the HR manager came out and said, " we can't hire him, he has been convicted of a crime". Is that NOT discrimination? can some one help me with this

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Attorney answers 4


At the risk of being the bad-news messenger, the answer is that nobody has a legal right to a job, and employers are required to constantly make choices. No law prohibits an employer from choosing to not hire someone with a criminal record.

This answer is offered as a public service for general information only and may not be relied upon as legal advice.


As you're in Illinois the Illinois Human Rights Act governs your situation and depending on the specific facts what you're describing may be a violation of the law. But it is case specific so I would give an attorney a call on Monday to see if your situation fits.

My answering this question does not form an attorney-client relationship. Always retain a qualified attorney before taking any action. My office offers free consultations.

Christine C McCall

Christine C McCall


I am NOT licensed in Illinois, but the IHRA has received national attention and commentary from employment discrimination attorneys in all states over the past many years. My understanding is that IHRA applies to arrest and expunged info but not to conviction history. Moreover, under 775 ILCS 5/2-103. Section 2-103(B) an employer may take action against an employee or an applicant if the employer is acting on information (besides the fact that the person was arrested) that indicates that the person actually engaged in the behavior that was the subject of an arrest. This last provision is highly analogous in purpose and operation to California's "improper conduct" doctrine.


An employer can hire or fire for any reason, no reason or even a wrong reason. Illinois is an at will employment state. Unless you are a union member or were discriminated against because of your membership in a protected class such as race, religion, etc., you are probably out of luck. Conviction of a crime is not a protected class so you were not discriminated against. Unfortunately, you are limited to seeking employment where background checks are not conducted. Sorry.


There are certain restrictions on using criminal history to deny someone a job. However, your crime based on the punishment does not appear to be one of them. You should contract the IDHR and talk to them.

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