A new bill hit the U.S. Senate floor Tuesday with important implications for employees and employers alike
Seven Senate Democrats are sponsoring a bill called the Equal Employment for All Act, which would ban employers from performing credit checks on applicants as a part of the hiring process.
Evidently, forty-seven percent of employers use credit checks, made legal under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, though such a check requires an applicant’s consent. This practice has a disproportionate effect on women and people of color with damaged credit from the 2008 financial crisis, according to The Washington Post.
Though businesses claim an individual’s credit is an indicator of financial responsibility in the workplace, particularly for those working in the financial industry, credit checks are being used in hiring decisions for all sorts of jobs, not just those in the financial industry. Stockroom managers, package deliverers, tech support personnel and frozen yogurt store employees could well have to pass a credit check in order to be hired.
Advocates of the new bill claim it unfairly throws disadvantaged people — those with bad credit and bad finances — into a vicious cycle, for they require a job to emerge from their financial woes, but cannot acquire one because of their credit.
Additionally, the Federal Trade Commission reports that at least one of the three major credit bureaus has produced an error on about 21 percent of Americans’ credit reports.
The bill would exempt jobs that require a national security background check.
Though the bill’s prospects remain unclear, we are excited by the possibility of a new law protecting equal opportunity for job applicants. Weeding through applicants on the basis of financial history disproportionately favors those who are already economically privileged and prevents job seekers from achieving financial and employment security.