U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today introduced the Equal Employment for All Act which would prohibit employers from requiring potential employees to disclose their credit history as part of the job application process.
“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. ”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.”
The bill is currently co-sponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).
The bill, S.1837, would specifically amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to “prohibit the use of consumer credit checks against prospective and current employees for the purposes of making adverse employment decisions.”
“It was previously thought that credit history may provide insight into an individual’s character, but research has shown that an individual’s credit rating has little to no correlation with his or her ability to be successful in the workplace,” said Warren.
Warren noted that 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 announcement.
“Let’s be honest: This is one more way the game is rigged against the middle class,” Warren wrote on her blog. “A rich person who loses a job or gets divorced or faces a family illness is unlikely to suffer from a drop in his or her credit rating. But for millions of hard-working families, a hard personal blow translates into a hard financial blow that will show up for years in a credit report.”
In addition to the support of her Senate colleagues, Warren said that The Equal Employment for All Act has been endorsed by more than 40 organizations.
Senator Warren’s bill is based on H.R. 645, which was introduced by Congressman Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) in 2011.