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

The senator announced her latest bill.

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.