Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has introduced a bill that would prohibit employers from asking prospective employees about their credit histories or obtaining such information through a consumer or credit report. In addition, the Equal Employment for All Act (S. 1837) would amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to prevent employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of their credit worthiness. The bill would make an exception for jobs that require a national security clearance or where credit information is otherwise required by law. Notably, the bill does not include exceptions for positions in the financial services or banking industries.
A handful of states have already enacted similar restrictions on the use of an individual’s credit history in employment. Moreover, in 2010, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) conducted a public meeting to discuss the use of credit histories as employee selection criteria. One of the agency’s goals, as indicated in its Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) approved on December 17, 2012, is to “eliminate barriers in recruitment and hiring” by, among other things, targeting “class-based recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against racial, ethnic and religious groups, older workers, women, and people with disabilities.” Therefore, it is expected that the EEOC will fully endorse this legislation, although its prospects this term are dim.