Yesterday I joined with the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus to host a Congressional Briefing entitled "Employment Credit Checks: Unwarranted Barrier to Employment." I am the author of legislation (H.R. 321) that would prohibit employers from using credit checks as part of the hiring process. The briefing featured a diverse panel that discussed the adverse impact pre-employment credit screenings are having on minorities, women, and the unemployed, and the need for legislation to curb the use of such screenings by employers. The panel consisted of Ben Peck, Senior Legislative and Policy Associate, Demos; Tanya Clay House, Director of Public Policy, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; Sarah Crawford, Director of Workplace Fairness, National Partnership for Women and Families; Jose Garcia, Policy Fellow, National Council of La Raza; and Hilary Shelton, Director of Washington Bureau, NAACP.
Using a job applicant's credit history to deny employment is not fair because personal credit history is not an accurate predictor of job performance. Memphis is in the bottom 10 cities in the nation when ranked by average credit scores, according to a 2012 survey by Experian, one of the nation's major consumer credit rating firms. Second chances in Hollywood and professional sports occur every day, but not for my constituents who are desperately looking for work. We should be doing everything in our power to help people find jobs during these tough economic times -- not hinder them.