Employer Blog

New federal bill would ban credit checks on employees and applicants

This legislation comes as a shot to business groups, many of whom regard credit checks as a safeguard against hiring people who may have trouble with money for positions of trust that involving the handling of money. According to a 2012 SHRM survey, among organizations that initiate credit background checks, 87 percent do so for positions with financial responsibilities.



Although critics of credit checks tout misuse, that risk is mitigated by protections already built into the FCRA. That is, if an employer takes an adverse employment action based on information in a consumer report, it must notify the applicant or employee, as well as advise of the right to see information being reported and to correct inaccurate information.

Further, anti-discrimination laws also provide another potential avenue for employees who believe that employers are misusing credit checks to pursue redress. And some states have already passed laws forbidding the use of credit checks in employment decisions.

Moreover, credit checks are rarely used in the early phases of the interview process. Rather, they generally enter into the hiring equation near the end. According to the 2012 SHRM survey, among organizations that initiate credit background checks, 58 percent do so after making a contingent job offer and 33 percent after the job interview. Thus, very few applicants for a particular opening are affected.

Although fewer employers than in previous years utilize credit reports as a hiring tool, proponents can cite enough pros and safeguards to outweigh the cons.

This was originally published on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.

Eric B. Meyer is a partner in the Labor and Employment Group of the Philadelphia-based law firm of Dilworth Paxson LLP . He dedicates his practice to litigating and assisting employers on labor and employment issues affecting the workplace, including collective bargaining, discrimination, employee handbook policies, enforcement of restrictive covenants, and trade secret protection. Eric also serves as a volunteer mediator for the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

You can download a copy of the Equal Employment for All Act below.


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