Proposed California Law Restricts Credit Checks for Job Applicants

The Los Angeles Times recently reported on a new bill headed to Governor Schwarzenegger for possible signature (though I believe it is likely to be vetoed) generally prohibiting California employers from requiring applicants to allow them to examine their credit report as part of the application process.

The new California employment law would allow employers to do checks on employees who handle large amounts of money or other sensitive positions.  While I recognize that in these situations there may be some correlation between a history of poor financial choices and the ability to do certain jobs, in today’s economy the usefulness of this information is, in my opinion, declining at the same time employers’ use of it as a hiring tool seems to be increasing.

I talk to potential clients every day with tragic stories of loss about being unemployed for months while desperately searching for new employment.  Many of these people are about to lose their homes, have had their automobiles repossessed and even have experienced the demoralizing reality of sending their children off to college this fall without being able to give them any assistance with their tuition or living expenses.

When I hear from these people that their recent poor credit history, which itself is usually a direct result of either unemployment or serious illness, is now the reason they cannot find a job, it makes me angry.  The problem is that many of these employers now receive dozens, if not hundreds of applications for a handful of positions, so the applicant never gets a chance to explain their situation before they are eliminated early in the process based solely on their credit report.

Studies have shown in the past that the average employee’s credit scores has no correlation with their job performance, but as a matter of public policy I think that when unemployment is in the double-digits throughout much of California this is an issue that needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later.

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7 Responses to “Proposed California Law Restricts Credit Checks for Job Applicants”

  1. Cassie J. says:

    I really hope that it passes... I have been unemployed for the past 7 months, and I am trying to survive on unemployment checks (my benefits have actually already run out, and I am now on an extension). I am in quite a bit of debt, and I'm sure my credit report looks terrible. I really hope that my inability to pay bills (because I don't have a job) is preventing me from getting another job (so that I can pay my bills) ... it's a catch 22, and it's not fair or just at all.

  2. Stan says:

    I think that it makes no sense not to hire based on a consumer/credit report. A person such as myself will never get the opportunity to bury themselves out of the financial situation they are in if they can't get a decent/any job to make sure this happens. Employers concerned with responsibility issues should rely on a criminal background check instead.

  3. Bennie says:

    This is one of the more distribution news.I really thank to post like this........

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  4. Donne says:

    My husband and I are now in the position of not being able to get a job because of our credit scores. While we once had soores or nearly 800, with the los of nearly 70% of our combined income and the loss of our savings (that kept us afloat for nearly two years), we are now faced with the monthly decisions of either putting food on the table and keeping our utilities on or paying our mortgage.

    We are both looking for additional jobs and have had several interviews and a few really good prospects where we were being seriously considered but after waiving our rights and agreeing to credit checks, suddenly we were no longer being considered.

    To make matters worse, my employer has just announced that we are now going to be subjected to credit checks in order to maintain our professional licenses. I do not handle money and am not in charge of guarding money and now I am about to lose my job that I have been doing for eight years, a job that has literally kept me and my husband from being completely destitute and homeless.

    I just don't get it, I can't get another job because of my credit and I'm going to lose the only job I have because of my credit. While I understand the rights of business to want to protect themselves from criminals but I am not a criminal and never have been. Where are my rights!

  5. Pamela says:

    This kind of thing is going to cause more of a California Exodus to other states which don't check all applicants' credit for jobs. After a fashion it doesn't make sense to just stay out here where you can't get anything because as time goes by you go longer and longer without anything. It just adds fuel to the fire. Lengthy unemployment because every job is requiring more and more recent work experience to do the same job that required no experience back in 1998 when you got the exact same job; and now not only requiring no criminal history but perfect credit too?! California is becoming the land of LOST opportunity.

  6. Mel H says:

    I wish a law like this would pass, It doesn't affect me directly but I work in H.R and find it pointless, you see People with outstanding resumes, excellent job experience, no criminal records and bad credit for many circumstances in life that have absolutly nothing do with with your job or your experience. and I feel so bad to send letters denying positions based on something so stupid.
    it's ok to check criminal records and all that of course. but people's credits have nothing to do with your "lifestyle" or your professional life. many things happen to good people, divorces, lost of employment, death in the family, emergency situations and many other issues that caused you issues with your credit and because of circumstances that once again have nothing to do with your job, they denied you the right to have a good job. I hope some law passes in California where employers can't look into your personal credit information, no matter what position is for. many other states already passed that law.

  7. Lisa S. says:

    It is now May 2012 and this bill still has not passed. I have been out of work for four years and just had to file for bankruptcy. What are my chances of getting a job now? I just applied for a wonderful job in Orange County, CA and they are interested in interviewing me. The only catch? They are asking for a credit check. Looks like I'm not getting a job yet.

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