Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

State Bans Credit Checks on People Who Weren't Having Their Credit Checked

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Now that Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a new law preventing businesses from using credit checks to screen employees, he’s patting himself on the back for sticking up for folks who’ve had a tough recession.

    “A job seeker’s ability to earn a decent living should not depend on how well they are weathering the greatest economic recession since the 1930s,” Quinn said in a statement. “This law will stop employers from denying a job or promotion based on information that is not an indicator of a person’s character or ability to do a job well.”

    Unfortunately for Quinn’s populist cred, this law won’t change a thing. Most employers aren’t using credit checks. And the ones who are were exempted from the ban.

    “For a lot of employers, there won’t be any major changes because they were only using credit reports for people who had access to cash or where financial decisions where being made,” said Mary Lynn Fayoumi of the Management Association of Illinois to the Illinois Statehouse Bureau.

    The new law exempts “positions that involve: bonding or security per state or federal law; unsupervised access to more than $2,500; signatory power over businesses assets of more than $100; management and control of the business; access to personal, financial or confidential information, trade secrets, or state or national security information.”

    In other words, pretty much any job that already required a credit check. But now the repo of your 1999 Camry won’t stop you from getting an $8-an-hour job as a chambermaid at a motel on Lincoln Avenue.

    The Tribune editorialized against the new law, arguing that it will discourage businesses from hiring in Illinois: “The governor and legislators have substituted their judgment for the judgment of the companies that actually put people to work in this state.”

    As a commenter pointed out, the Tribune editorial board is one to talk. Tribune Co. is currently in bankruptcy proceedings. It can happen to the most respectable people. At least Tribune reporters know they have a governor who’ll still grant them interviews, despite their newspaper’s financial troubles.