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Ohio Bill Bans Credit Checks for Employment

May 26, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Acing the interview is hard enough, but some job seekers in Ohio face another challenge while looking for work. Credit checks are becoming an almost routine hiring practice, an Ohio lawmaker says, preventing many otherwise qualified people from landing a job.

State Rep. Alicia Reece introduced House Bill 131, which would ban credit checks in employment decisions. She has heard from many people with financial difficulties who were shocked to find a credit check was part of the hiring process.

"They were qualified for various positions, had gone the rounds of interviews, passed the background checks. Many of them had been laid-off or had something happen medically - which put them in a tough situation, considering what has happened in the economy."

Reece says nearly 65 percent of employers now use credit checks during the hiring process. Her bill is awaiting a second hearing by a House Committee. Five states have similar laws and 16 others are considering such legislation.

Matthew Smith, legislative coordinator with the Ohio AFL-CIO, says this type of hiring practice is a form of discrimination, especially when a credit check is required for a simple, entry-level position.

"We're not talking about major financial jobs. There are going to be exemptions for people who really handle money, like bankers and things of that nature. But some employers hiring cashiers and waitresses are requiring credit checks now, and that just doesn't make sense."

Smith says this bill is extremely important for Ohio, as the state tries to get back on track after the economic downturn.

"People who need jobs, who were caught up in credit problems due to the great recession, they deserve a chance to dig themselves out of that. Why do we want to have any type of roadblocks to allowing people to find gainful employment and start paying back some of those debts?"

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH