A bill to ban credit checks in the hiring process was introduced today by Elizabeth Warren and six Senate colleagues. Over 40 other groups also back the bill, which has plenty of support and even mirrors a similar bill introduced in the House two years ago.
Credit checks, which are useful in actually bestowing credit and lending money, are also currently used by 47 percent of employers when they decide whom to hire. Credit checks in theory give an idea as to the potential employee's responsibility and overall competence in life and work. But as you probably suspected, that's not the case in practice. According to the senator's press release on the proposed bill:
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...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.
It can happen quickly: a woman wrecks her car and her insurance company is dragging its feet. In the meantime, she either needs to pay to fix the car either out of pocket or on credit, or she risks not being able to go to work, where she makes the money to pay back these creditors. So the cycle begins—a cycle that has little to do with responsibility and everything to do with sheer bad luck (and possibly low pay). In fact, nine states have recognized that fact and banned employment credit checks already.
Yes, credit checks make sense when you're making sure someone can actually afford to make good on a loan. But in these cases, it actually keeps them from making the money that they can use to, well, get better credit. The poor get poorer, indeed.
[image via Getty]