Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bills seeks to prohibit use of credit information in employment

Ohio House Bill 340 seeks to make it unlawful for an employer to discriminate on the basis of credit history. If enacted, it would amend Ohio’s anti-discrimination law to include the following:

It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer to use a person's credit rating or score or consumer credit history as a factor in making decisions regarding that person's employment, including hiring, tenure, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, or any matter directly or indirectly related to employment.

Unlike the federal bankruptcy discrimination statute we looked at on Tuesday, this law would prohibit any use of credit information in employment. While there is no doubt that many have been adversely affected by the ongoing economic crisis, this statute is an overreaction. There exist lots of valid reasons to use consumer credit as one factor in the hiring matrix. For example, if you can conclude that an applicant does not, for whatever reason, manage his personal finances properly, do you want to hire him to handle your business’s finances as its controller or have access to money in your cash register?

The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act already provides protections to consumers in how employers obtain their credit information, and prohibit access without consent. We do not need additional protection to limit how employers use this lawfully obtained information, especially when this information can give employers insight to an employee’s sense of personal responsibility.

Presented by Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, with offices in Cleveland and Columbus. For more information, contact Jon Hyman, a partner in our Labor & Employment group, at (216) 736-7226 or