Thanks to a proposal by the City Counsel, it may soon be illegal to reject job applicants based on credit history.
It is a mystery why employers were checking applicants’ credit history at all. There is no direct correlation between job performance and how applicants spend their money or if their bills are paid on time. (Studies have been done to explore the issue. ) To top it off, officials cited studies that suggest nearly 1/3 of credit reports are riddled with errors.
For years, it has been illegal to discriminate against applicants based on their credit scores. While the rule was already on the books, applicants had little recourse in the cases of discrimination. Now, applicants who suspect that their credit was the cause of their rejection don’t have to spend thousands on hiring a lawyer and suing the company. Instead, they have a more cost effective option of simply filing a complaint with Chicago’s Human Relations Commission.
There are exceptions. If companies can prove that the applicant’s credit history relates directly to the job the applicant is applying for, the scores and history can be taken into account. Banks, law enforcement, and insurance company applicants are exempt.
In addition to banning references to credit histories, businesses cannot longer post ads that discourage the unemployed from applying. The idea that not having a job means that you don’t deserve the chance to get one is quite inane.
There are plenty of people who may not have been employed recently who still qualify for employment: parents re-entering the workforce after being out on maternity/paternity leave; recent university graduates; and veterans reentering the workforce after a sabbatical come to mind.
By enforcing these new laws, Chicago residents may find it’s easier to get back to work and back on their feet.