Why employer credit checks are wrong
Published Nov 5, 2010 7:59 PM
It is now 2010 and the U.S. economy is in the midst of the worst recession
since the 1920s and 1930s. As a result, many people are out of work, there are
record foreclosures, and many people are accumulating debts or cannot pay their
bills. Job searches are hindered by racism, age discrimination and in many
cases a poor credit history. Your credit can prevent you from getting loans,
mortgages or even a job.
When a friend told me years ago that she was applying for a second job, she
said she was informed that the company was doing a credit check. This did not
make any sense; what does a person’s financial background have to do with
their ability to do a job? Secondly, how can you pay bills and debts if you are
Being in debt should not be a moral issue or a rule of judgment because it can
happen to anyone; these days it is like an epidemic because of the economy.
Prolonged unemployment, identity theft and errors on your credit report can
keep you out of work. Employers do not care if any of these things play any
role in the potential employee or worker’s situation. According to USA
Today, 13 percent of employers use credit reports in their hiring
The state of Oregon has banned the use of credit history checks by employers.
Its Legislative Assembly passed House Bill 1045 and the governor signed it into
law in March. Seventeen other states including New York, New Jersey and
Connecticut also have bills pending, but they have been sitting around since
July 2009. Sen. Steve Cohen, a Democrat from Tennessee, has proposed the Equal
Employment for All Act; this bill would prevent credit checks with only a few
As a consumer and worker, you do have rights and there are things you can do to
address this problem. Write your state legislators and urge them to sign the
bill into law; it bars employers from using your credit history to deny you a
job. Seventeen states have this bill. If your state does not have the bill,
urge your state lawmakers to write one. Be aware that the Fair Credit Reporting
Act requires employers to request your written consent to do a credit
Employers must also let you know that adverse actions can be taken against you
for information in your report. Do not refuse. If you do, you could be
eliminated from the hiring process immediately. If an employer denies you a job
because of your credit history, you have a right to know; you have 60 days to
request a copy of the report in question and learn which credit bureau supplied
Stay on top of your credit history and take steps to remove errors. The credit
bureaus are big business and they don’t care about workers who have
financial problems. They are another tool in the racist, capitalist,
imperialist monster that runs our society today. People who cannot pay their
bills should not be punished by being denied the very thing they need to pay
them — a job.
Denying someone the right to a job is the same thing as denying humans the
essential things they need to survive: food, shelter and health care. This is
unjust, immoral, evil and stupid. This vicious cycle needs to be stopped. A job
is a right not a gift!
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