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Can we run credit reports and use them as part of our employee selection process?

Maybe. Several states and some cities have enacted laws prohibiting the use of credit reports in hiring decisions, with very limited exceptions. Many more states continue to introduce similar legislation. Even in states that currently allow credit reports to be used in hiring decisions, under federal law, the applicant's financial condition is not likely to be relevant to the position unless the position requires either handling money or having authority over spending large amounts of money. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) may view the use of credit reports as a discriminatory basis for making employment decisions, as doing so may have an adverse impact on protected classes. In addition, under the federal Bankruptcy Act, a filing of bankruptcy may rarely be used in employment decisions.

Prior to considering the use of credit histories in the selection process for a particular job opening, employers should be able to show the business necessity and job relevancy of credit history information, review relevant state limitations, consider any potential for discrimination claims, and follow appropriate federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (and any state) notice and documentation requirements. When performing credit checks is deemed appropriate, a detailed policy on how and when such checks will be used should be adopted.


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