Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced legislation today prohibiting employers from requiring job applicant authorization for credit checks and credit history disclosure as a condition of employment.
Joining Warren in the partisan effort were U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Blumental (D-Conn.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).
According to press release, the Equal Employment for All Act of 2013 was endorsed by more than 40 non-profit, governmental, advocacy and labor organizations.
“A bad credit rating is far more often the result of unexpected medical costs, unemployment, economic downturns, or other bad breaks than it is a reflection on an individual’s character or abilities,” Senator Warren said in the release. “Families have not fully recovered from the 2008 financial crisis, and too many Americans are still searching for jobs. This is about basic fairness — let people compete on the merits, not on whether they already have enough money to pay all their bills.
Research supports character over numbers
The bill based on proven research that showed no correlation between an individual’s character or ability to perform in the workplace and their credit rating was designed to level the playing field for all Americans seeking employment. Passage of the bill would provide an additional barrier to workplace discrimination for the millions of Americans who experienced financial difficulties due the harsh economic climate following the financial crisis of 2008.
A study from the Federal Trade Commission earlier this year suggested that errors in credit reports are common and, in many cases, have been difficult to correct. “It makes no sense to make it harder for people to get jobs because of a system of credit reporting that has no correlation with job performance and that can be riddled with inaccuracies,” Warren said in the release.
Bill assists women and at risk populations
The Equal Employment for All Act of 2013 would assist those populations hit hardest by economic downfall and credit rating downgrades, including divorced women, minorities and those who have lost homes due to foreclosure.
The purpose of the legislation is to establish law,
“To amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to prohibit the use of consumer credit checks against prospective and current employees for the purposes of making adverse employment decisions.”
All potential employees would be protected under the bill regardless of whether credit check authorization was granted while seeking employment. Employers requiring National Security Clearance as a term of employment were granted an exception under the bill.
According to the National Conference of State Legislators, there are currently 45 similar bills that have been introduced or are pending in 25 states and the District of Columbia. Ten states have already signed legislation into law limiting employers use of credit, including neighboring Connecticut (2011).
Cosponsor the bill
Citizens are encouraged to co-sponsor the bill here.
Senator Whitehouse’s office did not have commentary prepared as of this posting.
Senator Warren’s bill is based on H.R. 645, which was introduced by Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-9) in 2011.