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Banning credit checks when hiring might protect from lawsuits

Is it fair to conduct a credit check on a potential employee, and to use it as a reason not to hire him or her? Many people being interviewed for a job probably wouldn’t like their credit reports being used as hiring criteria. A growing number of states are passing legislation that agrees, even though a study by the Society for Human Resource Management says about half of employers use credit checks to screen potential hires, for positions in every type of job and experience level.

Nevada was the tenth state to ban credit checks as a hiring tool. Legislation would allow interviewees to sue the company and force them to offer a job if a person’s credit report information was the company’s reason for denying the job. This could open the door for more people around the country to file employment discrimination lawsuits, on the basis of employment being denied for the mere reason that they have credit problems.

A lot of people would agree that what’s in a person’s credit report doesn’t reflect on their quality of work. People can have credit problems for any reason, which most often wouldn’t have anything to do with their past work performance or experience.

A federal bill has been introduced that would ban employers using credit checks and bankruptcy filings in the hiring process. If passed, the bill would have an impact on Texas companies as well. Texas employers should always exercise caution when considering a job applicant. To protect from lawsuits, only fair and unbiased interviewing and evaluation methods should be used when considering applicants.

Source: Bloomberg, “States Move to Ban Credit Screening for Job Applicants,” Elizabeth Dwoskin, June 14, 2013

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