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Why should jobs check our credit history?

Henry Crespo, Sr. | 1/23/2014, 9 a.m.

For quite some time it has been the practice of many employers and businesses to check the credit history of job applicants. While businesses and employers may think a person’s credit history is a fair evaluation tool for hiring a person, many believe using such information to help determine if someone should be hired is discriminatory and unjust.

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Henry Crespo, Sr.

Given the current state of our economy, an unemployment rate of 6.4 percent in Florida (which is twice as high for Blacks) and the recent U.S. Senate vote against extending unemployment insurance benefits, one would say U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren really has her focus on the needs of many in America.

If Warren’s bill, the Equal Employment for All Act, becomes law, a person’s credit history could not be used as an evaluation factor in considering them for any job that doesn’t require national security clearance.

Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, recently argued that “a person’s poor credit history is often the result of medical bills, job loss or divorce and does not reflect his or her ability to perform a job.” Her bill would amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to prohibit employers from procuring a job applicant’s credit report and would forbid employers from denying a person a job based on poor credit history.

America needs this bill. It would be a safeguard against injustices in the workforce.

I, like many other public and civic leaders, concur with Warren. We all know how unemployment has affected both families and individuals on a large scale and realize that both Blacks and Hispanics have disproportionately poorer credit than whites and Asians. When employers use a job applicant’s credit history to determine their eligibility for a job, it often decreases the opportunities for Blacks and Hispanics to enter the workforce. How can a credit rating — good or bad — serve as an indication of how well a person will perform his or her job responsibilities? It doesn’t. In fact, research has shown that an individual’s credit rating has little to no correlation with his or her ability to succeed in the workplace.

Still, I encourage everyone to satisfy their debts with their creditors as soon as possible. Why? Because America operates on credit and your score has to be good if you want to be in the game. What do we do now?  Floridians should pressure their legislators to vote “yes” before this bill hits the Senate floor. Call your representatives, especially U.S. Senators Bill Nelson (202 224-5274) and Marco Rubio (202 224-3041), to get them to support the bill.