Blog

 
     

Cook County, Illinois Limits Credit Checks for Employment Purposes

By Michael Klazema on 6/12/2015

In accordance with Ordinance 15-3088, employers, agents of an employer, and employment agencies must not:

  1. Fire, refuse to hire or recruit, discharge, or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to employment, classification, grading, discipline, selection for training and apprenticeship, compensation, or other term condition or privilege of employment because of an individual’s credit history or credit report;
  2. Inquire about an applicant or employee’s credit history; or
  3. Order or obtain an applicant or employee’s credit report from a consumer reporting agency.

Similar to the Illinois and Chicago laws, the County ordinance creates an exception to allow credit history to be considered when it is a bona fide occupational requirement, meaning:

  1. State or federal law requires bonding or other security for the position;
  2. Job duties include custody of or unsupervised access to cash or marketable assets valued at $2,500 or more;
  3. Job duties include signatory power over assets of $100 or more per transaction;
  4. The position is managerial and involves setting the direction or control of the business;
  5. The position involves access to limited categories of personal or confidential information, financial information, trade secrets, or state or national security information;
  6. The position meets federal or state rules establishing that credit history is a bona fide occupational requirement; or
  7. The employee or applicant’s credit history is required by or exempt under other laws.

The ordinance applies to anyone employing one or more employees, or seeking to employ one or more employees, if its principal place of business is in Cook County, or does business in Cook County. It applies to applicants for employment and any individual, whether paid or unpaid, who is engaged in the employment of an employer.  The ordinance defines “employment” to mean the performance of services for an employer: (1) for remuneration; (2) as a volunteer; or (3) as a participant in a training or apprenticeship program.

There are exemptions for government entities or organizations and certain private entities. Exemptions for the private entities include:

  1. Certain financial entities, including banks;
  2. Insurance or surety businesses authorized under Illinois law; and
  3. Debt collectors recognized under federal or state law or county ordinance.

The new ordinance is similar to the Illinois Employee Credit Privacy Act and the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance. Employers who are in compliance with those laws likely will be in compliance with Cook County’s new ordinance which went into effect on June 1, 2015.

What This Means For You:

  • Cook County, Illinois made it illegal to inquire about the credit history of an applicant or employee (with some exceptions).
  • You should determine whether you have employees in Cook County.  
  • If so, determine whether one of the exceptions in the law applies to you.
  • If exceptions do not apply, contact client relations to talk about setting up background screening packages without credit checks for Cook County positions.

Cook County Ordinance 15-3088: https://cook-county.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2285080&GUID=BDC6B73A-A6AD-4DB7-9C90-4F277A1DAAAC&Options=Advanced&Search=&FullText=1 
Illinois Employee Credit Privacy Act: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=3277&ChapterID=68

Chicago Municipal Code Sec. 2-160-053 http://backend.chicagolandchamber.org/wdk_cc/wcm/resources/documents/adobe_pdf/advocacy/
legislative_updates/policy_update_2.21.12/2362_9724000_15219/pawar_credit_history_sub4.pdf

Tag Cloud
Categories
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • June 20 Repeat background checks are becoming more common, with companies in India leading the charge. What does this trend look like, and how can employers embrace it now to stay ahead of the curve?
  • June 19

    Every federal job involves a background check of some kind. These background checks and how they are evaluated vary based on job, department, and security clearance level.


  • June 18

  • June 14 Ban the box laws aim to improve opportunities for employment. Could they have the opposite effect instead?
  • June 13 Jacobs Petroleum Products is a regional petroleum company that operates throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland. Apart from their employees carrying much responsibility and have frequent contact with customers, the company’s hiring also tends to be segmented since individual store managers are responsible for hiring talent for their own stores. In this employment landscape, Jacobs Petroleum Products needed a reliable and effective way to screen its new hires for criminal infractions and other red flags.
  • June 12

    The University of Wisconsin System may tweak its hiring and reference check processes. The potential changes come after one of UW’s assistant deans was accused of sexual harassment.


  • June 07 Stories of abuse by coaches in youth sports leagues continue to crop up around the country, but rules and guidelines remain patchy and enforcement is often lacking. The struggle to implement an effective system continues nationwide.
  • June 07 Financial background checks, usually referred to as credit history checks, can be an effective way to find out if a candidate is fit to handle accounts, financial data, and other assets at your business.
  • June 06 The Society for Human Resource Management and the Charles Koch Institute recently commissioned a survey to find out how willing employers were to hire people with criminal records. The study indicates that managers, HR professionals, and employees themselves are becoming more comfortable with the idea of hiring and working with ex-offenders.
  • June 04 Are fingerprint background checks the gold standard for employee screening, or are they overhyped? We look at some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding these checks.