There are certain questions employers cannot ask, like your religion or whether you were born in the United States. There are other questions that employers can legally ask, but they can potentially make employees and interviewees uncomfortable. One of these is whether the applicant or employee has ever filed for bankruptcy. You can refuse to answer this question, but it is in your best interest to answer honestly and frame it in a positive way. Lying about your bankruptcy can reflect worse on you than disclosing it.
In short, here is what your employer or prospective employer can and cannot do regarding your credit score and bankruptcy history:
- They cannot refuse to hire or promote you because you have filed for bankruptcy;
- In hiring and promotion decisions, companies can consider your credit score;
- Companies can perform financial background checks with applicant and employee permission. Applicants and employees may ask how their information will be used before consenting to these checks; and
- Employers cannot use employees’ credit scores or bankruptcy histories as a way to discriminate against employees of specific races, ethnicities, or status in other protected classes.
Your Employer Can Find Out About Your Bankruptcy if They Care to
When you file for bankruptcy, it is public information. Even if you do not consent to a credit check, your employer can find out whether you have filed for bankruptcy in the past simply by checking bankruptcy court records.
In certain cases, your employer can be informed about your bankruptcy directly. If you are working through a Chapter 13 repayment plan and automatic wage deductions are part of the plan, your employer will receive a wage deduction form and be required to comply with the court’s requests.
What to do if You are Asked About Your Bankruptcy During an Interview or at Work
This question can catch you off guard, but do not feel compelled to spit out an immediate answer. At work, simply be honest about your situation and provide a concise, appropriate answer. For example, you might tell your employer that you face financial difficulty after your divorce or due to an illness.
Employers can perform background and credit checks as part of the hiring process. This cannot be done without your consent. If you know your background check will turn up a low credit score and your bankruptcy, be prepared to provide an short explanation while focusing on the future. Tell your employer the truth, that you experienced financial hardship, but you are on the right track and committed to a financially responsible future.
Work With an Experienced Elk Grove Bankruptcy Attorney
Filing for bankruptcy can be an intimidating prospect. Make it easier for yourself by working with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer who can act as your advocate. Contact our team at Newland & Newland, LLP today to set up your initial consultation in our office. We serve clients in the Arlington Heights, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Libertyville, Mundelein, Buffalo Grove, Schaumburg, Elk Grove, and Itasca areas.
(image courtesy of Parker Byrd)