New bill would stop employers from using credit reports in hiring decisions

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DENVER -- The fight to get a new job could soon get a little easier.

Lawmakers debate a bill Thursday aimed at stopping employers from using credit information to hire and fire employees.

Senate bill 18 is called the Employment Opportunity Act.

It would prevent employers from using your credit information to deny you a job.

But employers say they like this option and lawmakers should stay out of it.

"I just cried. I absolutely cried. I couldn't believe this was something that was going to keep me from taking care of my kids," says Denver resident DeAna Jimenez.

Her ailing credit information led an employer to renege on a job offer in 2008.

She says her credit information reflects not just her debt and payment history--but her struggles.

"It reflects that I had sick kids that needed medical attention in order to continue their journey on this earth," she says about her inability to pay mounting medical bills during a time she left her husband because of abuse.

But credit information is used by nearly half of employers nationally in hiring decisions.

Some employers say credit scores can predict if an applicant is reliable, trustworthy and dependable.

"A credit report was never designed and does not indicate trustworthiness. It indicates your personal financial circumstance," says Democratic state Senator Jessie Ulibarri of Commerce City.

He’s pushing for lawmakers to pass the bill prohibiting most Colorado employers from using credit information when hiring. Banks and other financial industries would still be able to use this information.

"These are decisions he did not make and his credit score is being impacted," says Janiece Mackey of Denver about her husband.

Mackey says her family struggled after her husband was forced to leave the financial industry because of poor credit due to identity theft.

"The South Metro Denver Chamber opposes the bill," says Patrick Pratt, the chamber’s public policy director.

He says employers like using credit information as screening tools.

The South Metro Denver Chamber represents 1,300 businesses in four counties.

"Is the legislature or employers better at understanding their needs and who makes a better employee? And should the state dictate to small businesses, ‘Yes, you can hire this person. No, you can't,’" says Pratt.

Ulibarri says employers can already determine an applicant’s trustworthiness through reference checks, criminal background checks and drug tests.

Eight other states already have similar restrictions for use of credit information.

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