Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

January 15, 2014

Let employers see job applicant credit history

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is drawing praise from progressives for her legislation that would bar companies from requiring prospective hires to submit to a credit check as a condition of employment.

“This is about basic fairness — let people compete on the merits, not on whether they already have enough money to pay all their bills,” said Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat. “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.”

A few things: First, the credit reports employers see don’t even include the score — or “rating,” as Warren put it. Rather, they show the credit report itself.

This isn’t a minor distinction: While a low credit score could reflect any number of causes (from medical bills to missed payments on a boat loan), the credit report includes comprehensive information on the applicant’s credit history. If the only delinquent accounts are medical bills, employers will see that; they will also see if the source of turmoil is boat loans, timeshares and a Neiman Marcus store card.

The fact sheet for Warren’s Equal Employment for All Act explains that “There is no evidence to suggest that credit is an indicator of one’s work ability”; in subsequent interviews she amended “no evidence” to “little or no evidence.” That’s more accurate, but it’s far from a settled matter.

There is abundant research suggesting that financial stress has a negative impact on job performance. A 2011 PricewaterhouseCoopers survey found that 29 percent of U.S. workers report that personal-finance issues have been a distraction at work, and 48 percent said that they had handled personal-finance matters during work hours. So while Warren is right that there isn’t definitive proof that a poor credit history predicts poor job performance, employers are hardly irrational for looking at it.

Text Only
Opinion
  • Teachers unions' destructive behavior You can always count on the national teachers unions to behave badly at their annual conventions, and they certainly didn’t let us down this month. In doing so, however, they let down many of their members, along with students who are working hard to

    July 26, 2014

  • Workers of the world, curb your ambitions A group of Democrats introduced legislation this week to protect low-paid shift workers from last-minute changes in their schedules. The idea fits into an intriguing category of economic activism: Not trying to lift low-paid workers out of poverty, n

    July 26, 2014

  • State of the reunion ‘Katy! It’s been so long! How’ve you been?”My God, she’s gained so much weight I didn’t recognize her. It’s a good thing we’re all wearing nametags. I thought it was some distant cousin past due with triplets.“Bob! Long time, no see.”No hair, either.

    July 26, 2014

  • Fear indifference ‘Perhaps the Catholic church would volunteer to pony up some cash for the illegals’ care then? Hmm?”“Pope should stay out of it. Matter of civil laws, not church laws.”“Thinking that the pope should want the illegals to go to Argentina to get better

    July 25, 2014

  • A push for felon voting rights If advocates have their way, voting rights could be a new reality for the nation’s incarcerated.Full voting rights for felons is as hot a topic in Washington as voting rights in reverse pushed by voter-ID-tickled Republicans. But with new legislation

    July 25, 2014

  • Big insurers need better oversight Could Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. threaten the stability of the financial system? The U.S.’s top regulators are asking themselves this question as they consider whether Berkshire and other large insurers should come under Federal Reserve

    July 25, 2014

  • Questions for Obamacare after the ruling Tuesday, I outlined what we knew about Halbig v. Burwell, the case in which a federal appellate court ruled that subsidies for purchasing insurance under Obamacare can only be made available on marketplaces established by states. Now I propose to out

    July 24, 2014

  • Pensions not the problem I see in last night’s Register-News paper that James Rippy has attempted to enlighten us on pensions in Illinois. I also notice he has written so often he no longer has the title “guest columnist.” It is obvious he has the time and energy to work on

    July 24, 2014

  • Impasse threatens border solution After more than a year of contentious debate, could Congress be any more divided over the issue of immigration? The answer is yes.In the House, positions are hardening over what to do about the tens of thousands of families and unaccompanied young im

    July 24, 2014

  • Take a lesson from Texas I like to eat at blue-collar diners and cafes, particularly when I’m on vacation.It’s a chance to step beyond the homogenized national chains and experience a bit of local flavor.And being a reporter, I like to chat up local folks to find out a bit a

    July 23, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks