Civil Rights Leaders Seek to Stop Credit Report Usage in Hiring

Civil Rights Leaders Seek to Stop Credit Report Usage in Hiring

More than 25 organizations issued a letter to TransUnion claiming that their sales have a discriminatory impact on African-Americans and Latino applicants.

Published October 11, 2011

Civil rights groups and labor unions are joining forces in an effort to stop discrimination in hiring.


In a letter released Tuesday, more than 25 civil rights organizations, consumer advocates and labor unions called upon TransUnion, a credit report and score company, to immediately stop its sale of credit reports to employers.


The groups contend that credit checks have a discriminatory impact on African-American and Latino applicants whose average credit scores are markedly lower than those of whites. In the letter they express that at a point when Americans need more jobs than ever, a poor credit history due to a layoff, divorce or medical history can keep a qualified applicant unemployed.


The groups also claim that the high percentage of employers using the checks could be a reason why many are still unemployed. Sixty percent of employers were reported to use the reports in their hiring in 2010, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has already sued two companies over the practice, alleging that it violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.


Some of those involved the afternoon release of the letter included Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women; Barbara Arnwine, executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Hilary Shelton, senior vice president for advocacy for the NAACP, among others.


Over 20 state legislatures have considered legislation in the past year that would end the credit report sales. This past weekend California became the seventh state to implement the restricted use of the reports in employment.


Have you been denied a job because of your credit report?


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(Photo: Jonathan Alcorn/Reuters)

Written by Danielle Wright


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