Monday, April 18, 2016

HUD Seeks to End Discrimination Against Tenants with Criminal Records

by Evan L. Loeffler, Esq.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published guidelines in April 2016 for the proper consideration of applicants' criminal records when considering them for housing. HUD notes that because a disproportionate amount of people with criminal records are minorities, a blanket policy of refusing to rent to anyone with a criminal history may violate the Fair Housing Act.

The memo is not law in itself, but it interprets how the law may apply to certain situations. As with any new guideline, the legal ramifications will develop on a case-by-case basis as matters are heard in court and the guidance is considered.

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Could the New Legal Restrictions Actually Refocus and Improve Hiring?

by Gregory H. Andrews, Esq.

Employers face what many view as their toughest task when it comes to making hiring decisions. Some employers will err on the side of spending very little time and energy on this task, only to wonder why they have such high employee turnover.

Other employers will outsource the hiring task, never giving it another thought, only to wonder why the recruiter never sends any good candidates to them.

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Should Employers Ever Ask About Job Applicants' Criminal History?

by Carolyn Pratt, Esq.

The use of criminal background checks in hiring decisions has been one of the hottest employment law topics for several years running, so now is the perfect time to ask yourself:

Do I know what the law is in this area?

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Criminal Background Checks: What Employers Need to Know

by Mary Elizabeth Davis, Esq. and Elliot P. Fitzgerald, Esq.

Do you conduct background checks on job applicants or your employees? Take note! In a new joint publication, "Background Checks: What Employers Need to Know," the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provide useful tips on complying with federal discrimination laws and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

The publication reminds employers of the "dos and don'ts" to comply with the FCRA procedures when running a background check:

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Background Checks: To Check, or Not to Check?

By Julie Steed Kammer

Not too long ago an employer approached me with this question: "Can I get background checks on all of my employees? I need to weed out some of the crazy people we seem to be hiring."

While not an uncommon question, the answer is no, for several reasons. As a practical matter, background checks are not "sanity checks"--you can get some perfectly law-abiding citizens that pay their bills on time and are also perfectly nuts (non-clinically speaking), and conversely, some applicants who have been convicted of a crime or who may have a less-than-desirable credit score that are also entirely rational, responsible people.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

How to (Legally) Screen Your Tenant

by Sean M. Burke, Esq.

Advising landlords primarily entails suggesting ways to avoid problems in advance. Problems with tenants most frequently come from problem tenants. It's best to avoid problem tenants in the first place.

Landlords should carefully screen tenants before leasing to them. But landlords (and their advisors) should be aware that screening tenants is legal, but discriminating against tenants based on things like race, color, creed, or family status is illegal.

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Avoiding the Tenant from Hell

by Diane C. Bristow, Esq.

It is important for every landlord to conduct a background check on any prospective tenant. The landlord should obtain as much information as is possible about the prospective tenant's identity, income and assets. Not only is this a factor in tenant selection, but it also provides the landlord with essential information in the event of a later default by the tenant (e.g. in the payments required under the lease). The information obtained should include the tenant's date of birth, social security number, and driver's license number.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Safe Hiring Procedures

by Eileen McMinn, Esq.

You want to hire the best candidate for the job, and protect your business, employees, and customers from potentially dangerous situations. You scan the application you have been using for several years, and notice it asks the applicant if he or she has ever been convicted of a felony. Your assistant routinely reviews the applications and as a first step sends a "thanks but no thanks" letter to applicants who have checked 'yes' in this box. This may seem to be a logical way to screen out undesirable employees based on objective criteria, but the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") considers it to be a suspect question which results in discrimination against minorities.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Preparing for a Lawsuit Starts the Day of the Tenant's Application

By David Goles, Esq.

Benjamin Franklin once said “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This holds especially true for the parties entering into a lease agreement. Under Illinois law, a lease is a personal contract binding upon the parties thereto.i It is an agreement between the landlord and tenant, and the rules of contract construction apply to the construction of leases.ii The lease transfers control and possession of the real property from the landlord to the tenant for a specific period of time in exchange for rent.

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