Elizabeth Warren Wants to Keep Employers From Running a Credit Check on You

The senator announced her latest bill.

By | Boston Daily |
Elizabeth Warren

Associated Press

Updated 3:55 p.m.: Elizabeth Warren wants to ban employers from requiring a credit check from potential hires, which Forbes describes as an increasingly common practice. The Senator announced Tuesday that she’s introducing a bill that would ban it, arguing that credit ratings are an unfair measure of a potential employee’s worth and a target on the economically disadvantaged.

“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,” Senator Warren said.  “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.”

The bill would prevent employers from dmeanidng or asking applicants to disclose their credit history. Nor could employers eliminate employees based on poor credit. There’d be a built in exception for jobs requiring national security clearance. The bill is right in the sweet spot of Warren’s typical interests as a professor, author, and legislator. Through her legal and legislative career, and in books like The Two Income Trap, she has documented the barriers that stand in the way of those who face personal bankruptcy.

The  Globe reports that the bill will likely have the support of liberal consumer groups and opposition from pro-business Republicans who don’t want to legislate away a frequent tool used by employers (forty-seven percent of whom do in fact check their job applicants’ credit history, according to a 2012 survey.)

If forces do line up that way, and given Republicans control the House, this bill strikes us as less likely to be a law and more likely to simply bring attention to the specific issue, as well as Warren’s broader platform.

  • Jack McNamara

    Has Warren ever actually had a bill become law? I mean, A for Effort, but that’s about it.

    It seems ridiculous to lambaste Tea Partiers for trying to repeal Obamacare when they know that’s going nowhere, and praise Warren for introducing legislation that will never see more than the light of day.

  • Sam West

    Elizabeth Warren wants to ban all job interviews because they target “professionally disadvantaged”.

  • Brendan

    Earlier this year, State Sen. Mike Barrett (D-Lexington) and State
    Rep. Liz Malia (D-Jamaica Plain) were inspired to file similar state
    legislation for the same reasons — many families have bad credit because of a job loss, health crisis or paying for basic necessities, such as food and utilities; credit reports don’t reliably predict job
    performance; on top of that, credit reports have a significant error
    rate.

    Employers using credit reports creates a vicious cycle for people with bad credit.

    Thanks to Sen. Warren for her leadership on the federal level. In Massachusetts, like the rest of this country, we need this type of legislation.

    For those interested in the Massachusetts versions, please see:

    https://malegislature.gov/Bills/188/Senate/S80 filed by Sen. Mike Barrett (D-Lexington)

    https://malegislature.gov/Bills/188/House/H1744 filed by Rep. Liz Malia (D-Jamaica Plain)

    -Brendan Berger
    Communications Director
    Office of State Sen. Mike Barrett

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