As you may already know, I am a Chicago Bankruptcy Attorney, practicing for over 35 years in City of Chicago and its suburbs. One of the most common questions I hear is about employers requesting credit reports from prospective employees. Illinois residents have some degree of protection.
Illinois law prevents employers from inquiring about a job applicant’s credit history unless that history relates to a specific occupational qualification, or has a substantial relationship to a particular job’s requirements. This is State law, not Federal law and not all States give a job applicant the same protection.
What does this mean? Well, first of all, Federal law requires that an employer ask the job applicant for permission before it pulls a credit report. In fact, the applicant must consent in writing before an employer may retrieve a credit report. The job applicant is also entitled to receive notice before the employer takes any adverse action based on the information contained in the report and is entitled to receive notice again, that the employer did in fact take adverse action based upon the information contained in the report.
In Illinois, the employer cannot pull your credit report for just any old job application. In Illinois, the employer must explain how your credit history relates to a specific qualification of the job. Certainly, an employer can say that a credit history is relevant because it shows a prospective employee’s character, which is an occupational qualification, or is it? I suppose they can try saying that. But is that a violation of the intent of the law? Let’s hear back from you with specific examples. Which employers are asking for permission to obtain your credit history and for which job?