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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.
This article was originally published on December 17, 2013.
This program aired on December 17, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.
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