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Can My Potential Employer in Chicago Require a Credit Check?

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2014 | Firm News

Unemployment can be a double-edged sword for some families. Past-due bills and financial hardship can create a less-than-perfect credit score. So why do some employers find it necessary to run a credit check for potential employees? While Federal law requires written permission for an employer to check your credit, it can be unsettling to go through the interview process and worry that your credit score might prevent you from obtaining the job you desperately need to repair your credit rating.

Reasons for Employers to Conduct Credit Checks

Some employers claim they need to check your credit history if you will be trusted with any amount of money. Other employers believe an unfavorable credit score can reflect poorly upon how a potential employee handles responsibility. In addition, a credit check will verify past employment. You must be aware once you give written permission to check your credit to your employer, they can continue to run checks in the future. Promotions or transfers may be impacted by these continued credit checks.

Regulations for Employee Credit Checks

As of 2014, Washington and Hawaii are the only two states with any regulations on when and how a potential employer can look into your credit history. For employees in these states, the employer may only run a credit check if it pertains to your job and the employer must disclose this reasoning. Specific protocol must be followed to give potential employees the required information.

Important Issues of Credit Checks

With a poor economy or a life hardship such as a medical issue, many potential employees feel it is extremely unfair to base how responsible they are on their credit history. If an employer utilizes a credit report to determine if they want to hire someone, the employer should give the individual an opportunity to explain a poor report. It should be noted that employers do not receive your actual credit score, and your score will not be affected by the inquiry.

Chicago Employment Rights

If you feel your rights have been violated in the employment process, you need to contact a Chicago employment lawyer at Goldman & Ehrlich. Schedule your free consultation today.

Can an Employee Assume Responsibility in Sexual Harassment?

While everyone is aware of the employer’s responsibility in preventing sexual harassment in the workplace, many may not realize that an employee also assumes some responsibility to provide a workplace that is free from sexual harassment.

Employees should be committed to doing the following:

  • Become educated on your company’s sexual harassment policy.
  • Understand your own attitude towards sexual harassment and ensure you do not participate in any form.
  • Be alert of others who engage in sexual harassment, including subtle verbal or non-verbal behavior that could be viewed as offensive.
  • Discourage this type of discriminatory behavior.
  • Do not dismiss sexual harassment; if you believe you are suffering from others’ behavior; avoid smiling, laughing or joining into the circumstances. Tell the person who is acting poorly that you do not want that type of attention.
  • If you are able, you should tell the harasser that his or her comments or actions are having a negative impact on your job.
  • Seek legal advice from a Chicago sexual harassment attorney to develop the best plan of action for a positive resolution.
  • Keep a written record of all incidents, including the date, time, location and the people involved.
  • If you know another employee is suffering from sexual harassment, offer support and encourage that person to address the problem.
  • If you actually witness with your own eyes or your own ears any perceived sexual harassment, you can take the necessary steps to remedy the situation or assist the victim in their pursuit of justice.

Chicago Sexual Harassment Legal Counsel

Goldman & Ehrlich takes great pride in helping victims of sexual harassment, and in education employers and employees on the prevention of sexual harassment. Contact our firm today to see how we can help.

Is a Social Media Background Check Discrimination?

Social media is playing more and more of a roll in everyone’s life. As the legalities of the use of social media in various circumstances develop, it is important to consider the ramifications of its use, including employers who use social media as a means of discrimination.

The Wall Street Journal published a report in 2013 about a study that Carnegie Mellon University did on the discrimination taking place with the use of social media with the use of fake resumes. The study indicates that U.S. companies are searching social media outlets for information on resumes received from applicants. The results showed that candidates who were found to be Muslim via social media were less likely to be called for an interview than candidates who indicated they were Christian.

This study implies that companies are, in fact, using social media as a form of discrimination in the hiring process. With protected areas, such as religious affiliations, an employer does not have to be as blatant as asking the applicant about their beliefs; the employer can simply access social media. The ease of finding this information, however, does not make it legal. It is still considered discrimination.

Recommendations to Avoid Discrimination Based on Social Media

While many might advise employers to never use social media, there are plenty of benefits of accessing applicant’s profiles on these readily available sights, including the discovery of:

  • Illegal drug use references
  • Negative information disclosed about a past employer
  • Discriminatory behavior on the part of the applicant
  • If the applicant has released confidential information via social media
  • The applicant’s communication skill level

To avoid the discovery of the protected EEO areas, you must enlist a current employee who can keep information strictly confidential and who is not involved in the hiring process to access the social media profile of the applicant and provide a report delineating important, non-discriminatory information posted by the applicant. This process will guide the employment process without discrimination.

Chicago Employment Discrimination Representation

If you have questions about the use of social media and employment, you need to contact the employment legal specialist at Goldman & Ehrlich in Chicago.

Who Owns Personal Email on an Employer Issued Computer or Smartphone?

Many, if not most, of employers across the U.S. issue laptops and smartphones to their employees. The company pays the monthly bills associated with the internet access, text messaging and phone calls while the employee uses the computer or phone for business and personal needs. So, the question has now become: Who owns personal email on the employer issued computers and smartphones?

Stored Communications Act

In a case in the Ohio court system, Lazette v. Kulmatycki, the court ruled that Lazette’s past employer violated the Stored Communications Act when her previous boss accessed and read almost 48,000 personal emails from a smartphone Lazette returned after her employment ended.

The Stored Communications Act prohibits access not authorized by the individual to all personal emails and other personal internet information. This law was passed to prevent behavior similar to wiretapping of the internet.

Prevention of Employee Privacy Violations

Because computers and smartphones are basically a necessity in today’s business world, employers are encouraged to take the following steps to prevent any violations:

  • Establish a company-wide policy that follows the guidelines of the Stored Communications Act. State the privacy policies expected from your employees and what they can expect from you as their employer.
  • Determine if you will need any business information for a pending lawsuit. If you will need this information, place the phone or computer in a safe or other secured area to prevent illegal access to private information until it is needed for the lawsuit.
  • If an employee is required to relinquish a smartphone or computer at the time of termination without an opportunity to wipe their personal information from the device, and you do not need the company-related information for any reason, you need to take this step for them. It will prevent a violation of their privacy not only from you, but also from other employees who might have access to the device.

IL Employment Development

Goldman & Ehrlich takes great pride in offering up-to-date employment information to our IL clients through our blog. Do not hesitate to call with employment questions. We offer the highest level of representation for employees and small businesses throughout the Chicago area. Contact us today.