Labor and Public Employees Committee
JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT ELIMINATING CREDIT REPORTS AS A BASIS FOR EMPLOYMENT DECISIONS.
Joint Favorable Change of Reference to Judiciary
SPONSORS OF BILL:
Rep. Matthew Lesser- 100th District
REASONS FOR BILL:
To prevent employers from discriminating against perspective employees based upon that employee's credit history.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
John A. Danaher III, Commissioner, Department of Public Safety- OPPOSED
The Department of Public Safety expresses concerns about the vagueness of exceptions. The Department of Public Safety conducts background checks for executive and judicial appointments, which includes information about federal and state taxes, payment of property taxes, child support and a credit check. It is incumbent upon the executive and legislative branch do their due diligence when making such appointments. It must be noted, that not all people with questionable financial histories need to be turned away or denied appointment.
Chief States Attorney Kevin Kane- Division of Criminal Justice- OPPOSED
The Division of Criminal Justice is in opposition to this proposed bill. The use of credit scores, credit account balances, payment histories, bank account balances and other credit information plays a critical role in ensuring that those who occupy positions of public trust are not susceptible to improper influence. Significant financial difficulties that are uncovered during a background investigation may signal other problems in the applicant's or nominee's background. Although the bill proposes to exempt certain types of employment, as currently drafted it does not appear to exempt Judicial, law enforcement, other criminal justice positions or commissioners and other agency heads now subject to background checks.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Rep. Matthew L. Lesser, 100th District:
Suppose one loses his or her job in a layoff, that person max out their credit cards and their credit history has now been damaged as a result. Imagine then, as you apply for jobs not getting them solely because you owe money to credit card companies. It is a credit “catch-22”, and its not as rare as one may think. Job creation should be the top priority during the current legislative session, but these credit checks are a significant barrier to employment. In many cases the employer has no valid reason to check one's credit history. According to Eric Rosenburg, Director, State Government Relations at TransUnion said, “at this point we don't have any research to show any statistical correlation between what's in somebody's credit report and their job performance or their likelihood to commit fraud.” This is an invasion of an employee's privacy. In a number of studies, it can be observed that credit reports are often filled with errors. People with significant medical and mental health histories are disproportionately disadvantaged by credit screening. Moreover, owing money is not a crime.
Paul Filson, SEIU:
Credit reports do not show the whole picture and tend to be poor for young, lower income and less well educated job applicants. According to the National Association of State Public Interest Research Groups, “79 percent of the credit reports surveyed were inaccurate. In addition, there is no clear correlation between a credit history and job performance.”
Mandi Jackson, Unite Here:
Credit reports in employment should be restricted for four main reasons; credit checks in hiring create a fundamental “catch-22” for job applicants in Connecticut, the use of credit in hiring discriminates against African American and Latino job applicants, credit history does not predict job performance, and credit reports are inaccurate.
Sarah Poriss, Attorney at Law, LLC:
Credit scores are not affected only by non-payment of bills. In a recent study by the Federal Trade Commission, in December 2008, found that “between 15% and 40% of those surveyed found errors on their credit reports that may affect their credit scores. This shows a large percentage of job applicants likely have errors, which could adversely affect their credit score and prevent them from obtaining employment.” This report shows that credit score are not accurate indicators of how qualified an individual is for employment. This will inevitably increase competition for any job that is currently available. Credit scores also do not give an accurate indication of one's work ethic.
Cheri Bragg, Keep The Promise Coalition:
Many people with mental illness face enormous hurdles when trying to obtain employment. People who have had lengthy or frequent hospitalizations must often explain large or numerous work gaps in their work history. Also, people who are working become ill or hospitalized. These people may lose their jobs and not be able to pay bills, such as a mortgage. This does not show a person's character, nor does is mean someone wouldn't be able to meet the demands of their job. Eliminating credit reports as a basis for employment decisions would facilitate the pursuit of employment, adding to the labor force, and making healthy communities.
Alicia Woodsby, NAMI:
A poor credit history can serve as a barrier to employment for many people with serious mental illnesses who already face multiple obstacles throughout the employment process due to factors related to their illness, such as stigma, financial distress, ongoing health concerns, and trouble obtaining disability accommodations in the workplace. This bill would eliminate the credit check process of one's financial background and give a person with poor credit an opportunity to gain employment.
Lindsay Farrell, Connecticut Working Families:
Credit checks are increasingly a threat to employment and decent treatment in the workplace, as the combination of a poor economy and mortgage crisis tarnish the credit histories of many Connecticut residents. Credit checks in no way show how a person would perform at his or her job. Credit checks are often discriminatory, inaccurate measures of one's economic past. No one should be denied a job for reasons other than their ability to perform at that job.
Alexis N. Highsmith, GHLA:
The use of credit reports has an adverse impact on poor people who have lower credit scores. However, a poor credit score does not predict the ability of an employee. This bill creates common-sense exceptions to the elimination of credit reports as a basis of employment.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Andy Markowski, NFIB:
Eliminating the use of credit reports as a tool for employers is simply not conducive to the successful operation of our free enterprise system. Business owners should have any and all available information of a prospective employee to make the best hiring decisions. Without access to full information about prospective employees, employers are unable to act to protect their business from potential loss and ensure the trust of their employees, vendors, and the general public, when making hiring decisions. According to the Wall Street Journal, “small businesses, unfortunately, are particularly vulnerable to embezzlement and other kinds of employee theft because they lack the checks and balances of big corporations.”
Kia F. Murrell, CBIA:
This bill may have a negative impact on Connecticut businesses because it will increase the costs of doing business in the state, creates new administrative burdens for employers when making hiring or personnel decisions, and limits employers' flexibility when assessing the qualifications and fitness of job candidates.
Michael J. Morand, Yale University:
Yale University believes the use of credit reports in employment decisions is prudent and reasonable. The operation of museums and libraries with valuable collections used in research, preservation, and public exhibitions and the operation of health services that include the use of prescriptions and other pharmaceuticals should be subjected to credit reports. We would request that that you consider adding specific language that allows for the use of credit reports in employment decisions where the position “(e) involves access to employer's non-financial assets, including, but not limited, to museum and library collections and to prescription and other pharmaceuticals.”
Robert J Brothers, Jr., CHRO:
The problem with the bill is the terminology and construction are ambiguous. Subsection (1) of section (a) states, “is substantially related to the employee's current or potential job.” The bill provides no parameters as to how closely related the violation would have to be to the work done or to be done. Subsection (2) of section (a), states, “such report is required by law.” If it is already required by the law this is unnecessary. Subsection (3) of section (a), defines “employer” as a person who has one or more employees. This would be in conflict with state discrimination law which requires three or more employees for designation as an employer. Subsection (3) of section (a), states, “ the employer reasonably believes.” What would be considered reasonable, and what form of confirmation would be required? Would hearsay be acceptable or would official confirmation of an arrest be required? Subsection (3) of section (a), states, “activity that constitutes a violation of law.” Again, no parameters are established. Does the bill intend violations of law related to the position of employment or could a traffic violations or misdemeanor having nothing to do with the person's employment trigger a credit check? The bill as drafted is dangerous to the rights of many Connecticut employees and could be artificially used to screen out protected classes from getting much needed jobs.
John Yusza, Jr., CASIA:
Credit checks and criminal background checks are often performed, and should be performed, to screen job applicants in the alarm industry to ensure that a candidate will not pose a threat to customers and their property. We appreciate the language in section 1(a)(B), which allows credit checks to be performed on employees who have “access to customers', employees' or employer's personal or financial information other than information customarily provided in a retail transaction.”
Marshall R. Collins & Associates:
The Organizations believes the discretion should be up to the employer to conduct credit checks for potential employees. In addition, the bill places burdens on employers and remove the employers' ability to make necessary and appropriate employment decisions. This bill increases costs and provides yet another reason for companies not to do business in Connecticut.
Reported by: Marco Merati