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When I got hired for my last job, before the job offer was final I had to submit to a drug test, and a background check which included a credit history. Employers look at a credit report for trustworthiness. They see the ability to pay bills in a consistent manner as an indication of whether you can be reliable in the workplace. It seems to be a fair and reasonable barometer, but not to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)– they think it’s racist.

That’s right, the Federal Government says, the practice is unlawful and violates a decades-old civil rights act that forbids hiring practices that have a racially discriminatory impact, according to a complaint filed this week by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Employers cannot screen out groups of people, even if it’s done “unintentionally,” said the government attorney handling the matter.
That’s right the law is, it doesn’t matter if you are trying to be racist or not, its the result (or perceived result that’s important) 
The case involves a chain of private, for-profit colleges and training schools known as Kaplan Higher Education Corporation. Kaplan is famous for many things including SAT prep courses. For several years the company, which has 34,000 employees and hundreds of locations in dozens of countries, has conducted background checks on job applicants that include credit histories for those who may deal with financial matters if hired.

“This practice (factoring credit histories into hiring) has an unlawful discriminatory impact because of race and is neither job-related nor justified business necessity,” the agency alleged in a suit it filed against the Kaplan Higher Education Corporation in the U.S. District Court for Northern Ohio in Cleveland.

Kaplan has engaged in the practice since “at least 2008,” according to an EEOC statement.The EEOC said it took the action on behalf of African American applicants denied jobs based on findings in  their credit reports.

Now the EEOC is seeking lost wages and benefits “for people who were not hired because of Kaplan Higher Education’s use of job applicants’ credit history.”

Oh Please!! This is going too far. Credit history should never be the sole determinant for employment, but there is nothing wrong with using it as a factor.  It is a totally objective piece of information that is not racial in any way.  The EEOC is making the suit to help some black people who did not get hired, what the government is not contending is that Kaplan does not have a racially or ethnically diverse work force.

In a recent letter to the agency, the Consumer Data Industry Association strongly defended using credit histories in hiring decisions. It told the agency that employers tried hard to create working environments that were free from fraud and theft.

In that letter, Eric J. Ellman, the association’s vice president for public policy and legal affairs, said, “In a climate of economic uncertainty, where employers are likely choosing from a large employment pool, they need to be critically careful about protecting their businesses and their customers.”

Mr. Ellman noted that the use of credit reports for employment purposes was legally protected and that “credit reports for employment purposes are reliable predictors of risk.”

“Many safeguards exist for employers to ensure that credit information is used where it is job-related and consistent with business necessity,” he concluded in his letter to the agency.

 It seems as if the EEOC is not trying to “level the playing field” but instead trying to change the rules to skew the playing field, but under the Obama administration that is the way agencies are supposed to act.  Just ask the DOJ.

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