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Should employers be able to discriminate based on credit scores?

We've written often on this blog about the different ways in which the recession has affected job seekers in Pennsylvania and around the country. From discrimination against people who have been unemployed in the long term, to higher hiring standards for less demanding jobs, the down economy has made in difficult in many ways for people to get back on their feet.

Recently it has become clear that employers are also checking the credit reports of job applicants, adding yet another layer of discrimination against those who have been negatively affected by the recession. For many Pennsylvania workers, losing their job caused them to rely more heavily on credit cards or to fall behind on loan payments, damaging their credit. Now that bad luck is making it harder to find a job, according to policy experts.

About 47 percent of employers check an applicant's credit report while making a hiring decision, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, even though events that affect credit often don't relate to job duties. For example, one man told reporters that he had difficulty finding a job again after an injury left him in massive debt to a hospital, causing him to declare bankruptcy. The man worked as a shoe salesman and after restructuring his debt he was unable to find work at the same pay rate that he made in prior to the bankruptcy.

Eight states have already outlawed this behavior, and many are encouraging the federal government to take action.

What do you think - should credit checks on potential employees be allowed?

Source: CBS MoneyWatch, "Bad credit ratings sinking job hunters" Kathy Kristof, Feb. 6, 2013

More information about employee rights can be found on our Pittsburgh employment discrimination page.

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