The Associated Press

Sen. Warren: Bill Would Bar Credit Checks By Employers

BOSTON — U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Tuesday she will introduce a bill that would ban what she calls the widespread use of personal credit history by employers screening job applicants.

The Massachusetts Democrat said the practice of seeking credit reports from prospective employees unfairly targets women, minorities, seniors, students and others with fewer financial resources to recover from a personal setback like an illness, divorce or death in the family.

“For millions of working families a hard personal blow translates into a hard financial blow that will show up for years in a low credit score,” Warren told reporters.

Warren said there’s little evidence of any correlation between a poor credit rating and job performance. She called the proposed legislation a matter of fairness, arguing that wealthier individuals can afford to suffer a personal loss without it threatening their future employment prospects.

“If the rich go through a divorce, they don’t see their credit score go down by 150 points,” Warren said.

The legislation will likely meet opposition from business groups and Republican lawmakers who typically oppose more government regulations and restrictions on employers.

The bill would amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to stop employers from requiring or suggesting job applicants disclose their credit history and prohibit employers from disqualifying employees based on a poor credit rating.

The bill includes exemptions for positions that require national security clearance.

Warren argued that errors can occur in credit reports and that bad credit can keep those individuals out of the workforce unfairly.

Warren acknowledged the difficulty of passing any legislation in a divided and partisan Congress and said she hoped to reach out to Republicans.

Warren’s bill is co-sponsored by fellow Democratic Sens. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on wbur.org.
  • Thinkfreeer

    I applaud Senator Warren for taking this step to protect our privacy. It’s really none of their (employers) business what our credit score is, or, for that matter, what we say on Facebook, etc. It’s time we tell employers to back off and respect our private information.

  • LeftShooter

    To the extent a credit score says something about a person’s risk profile, appetite for risk, and prudent financial choices, as well as maturity, I think it could be relevant information for an employer to consider, especially if the job is in the financial services and/or advisory business.

    I knew someone in the construction business who required credit checks as his experience had been that those who had acted irresponsibly with their credit were also more likely to “lift” materials from job sites to sell–presumably to alleviate their financial difficulties.

    I believe responsible credit management is an element of personal responsibility and may not be best addressed by legislation that would serve to alleviate personal responsibility. Legislators should ask themselves: will this legislation promote victimhood by implying that every person’s difficulty can be blamed on something or someone else? I think any job applicant should run a free copy of their credit report, start the process to fix any errors, and prepare a narrative to satisfactorily explain any problem areas they can foresee.

    • Mark

      Responsible credit management surely is an element of personal responsibility, but that’s very different than saying a good credit score means someone is responsible. I could have the highest credit score in the country and still be the laziest person you would ever hire.

      For certain industries, such as financial, I can agree with the check. Outside of that, nobody should feel (or be) obligated to explain to a potential employer *anything* about their personal lives in order to secure a job. It’s just no one’s business besides them and their creditors. If my credit appears not great, it doesn’t mean I’ve done anything wrong or that I’m irresponsible. It could mean something beyond my control caused a snag in my life, and that snag is not your concern if you’re looking to hire me. I don’t have to tell you about a messy divorce, say, or something like that.

Most Popular