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Cook County Illinois Restricts the Use of Credit Reports

June 15th, 2015 | Sterling

Effective 6/1/2015 Cook County Illinois enacted a bill that amended the Cook County Human Rights ordinance that restricts an employer’s use of credit reports for prospective or current employees. The ordinance affects all private employers or employment agencies that have their principle place of business or conducts business within Cook County.

The law does not prohibit employers from requesting or taking action on an employee’s credit history, if a satisfactory credit history is an established bona fide occupational requirement of the position. A satisfactory credit history is not a bona fide occupational requirement unless at least one of the following circumstances is present:

  • State or federal law requires bonding or other security covering an individual holding the position.
  • The duties of the position include custody of or unsupervised access to cash or marketable assets valued at $2,500 or more. For the purpose of this exception (b), “marketable assets” means company property that is specifically safeguarded from the public and to which access is only entrusted to managers and other select employees. “Marketable assets” do not include the fixtures, furnishings, or equipment of an employer.
  • The duties of the position include signatory power over business assets of $100 or more per transaction.
  • The position is a managerial position which involves setting the direction or control of the business.
  • The position involves access to personal or confidential information, financial information, trade secrets, or state or national security information. For the purposes of this exception, the following definitions apply:
    1. Personal or confidential information means sensitive information that an employee, customer, client, or service recipient gives explicit authorization for another person to obtain, process, and keep; that an organization entrusts only to managers and a select few employees; or that is stored in secure repositories not accessible by the public or non-designated employees.
    2. Financial information means non-public information on the overall financial direction of an organization, including, but not limited to, company taxes or financial reports.
    3. Trade secrets mean sensitive information regarding a company’s overall strategy or business plans. This does not include general proprietary information such as hand books, policies or general business strategies.
    4. State or national security information means information only offered to select employees because it may jeopardize the security of the state or the nation if it were entrusted to the general public.
    5. The position meets criteria in administrative rules, if any, that the U.S. Department of Labor or the Illinois Department of Labor has promulgated to establish the circumstances in which a satisfactory credit history is a bone fide occupational requirement.
    6. The employee’s credit history is otherwise required by or exempt under other applicable law.

The restriction on the use of credit reports does not apply to the following.

  • Any bank holding company, financial holding company, bank, savings bank, savings and loan association, credit union, or trust company, or any subsidiary or affiliate thereof, which is authorized to do business under the laws of Illinois or of the United States.
  • Any company authorized to engage in any kind of insurance or surety business pursuant to the Illinois Insurance Code, including any employee, agent, or employee of an agent acting on behalf of a company engaged in the insurance or surety business.
  • Any municipal law enforcement, investigative unit or municipal agency which requires use of the employee’s credit history or credit report including without limitation the Chief Judge, the Cook County Independent Inspector General, the Cook County Auditor, the Cook County Sheriff and the Cook County State’s Attorney.
  • Any entity that is defined as a debt collector under federal or state statue or county ordinance.

The full text of the ordinance ban be found here.

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.