CHICAGO — The Illinois attorney general’s office is suing the owner of a chain of payday lending stores for allegedly forcing low-wage employees to sign non-compete agreements.

The lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, contends Check Into Cash effectively prevents employees from getting another job in Illinois as anything from a bank teller to a retail cashier for one year after leaving.

In announcing the lawsuit, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said Check Into Cash tries to retain low-income workers by requiring them to sign the agreements. The lawsuit asserts the company has used its current non-compete agreement since 2014.

Cleveland, Tennessee-based Check Into Cash has more than 1,000 stores in 28 states, including 33 in Illinois.

Telephone calls Thursday to Check Into Cash for comment on the lawsuit weren’t immediately returned.