Issue Of Employer Credit Checks Sparks Heated Spat

DENVER (AP) – A debate over whether to ban Colorado employers from using credit reports against job applicants became feisty Tuesday when Senate Democratic Leader John Morse said Republicans are trying to protect corporations while Democrats want to protect “the little guy.”

Republican Sen. Greg Brophy immediately yelled, “Don’t impugn motive!”

Republican Sen. Ted Harvey backed up the anger, saying of Morse during the debate on the Senate floor: “I am ashamed of you. And I think this body should rebuke you for your comments.”

Harvey added in conclusion, “Sen. Morse, you’re an embarrassment.”

It was one of the most heated exchanges of the session.

The bill would forbid employers from using consumer credit information unless a job candidate is applying for a job in the financial or security sector. Morse, of Colorado Springs, was speaking in support of the proposal when he made the comments that angered Republicans.

“The Republicans are saying, ‘We’ve got to protect these big corporations.’ And what we’re saying is, ‘Give the little guy that’s unemployed a fair shake,'” he said.

The proposal got final approval in the Democratically-led Senate on Tuesday. Republicans are expected to defeat the measure in the House, where they have a slim majority.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Morgan Carroll, said people who are unemployed in the wake of the recession are facing a tougher time because they’ve taken a hit on their credit report and employers are using that against them.

But the opponents of the legislation say it takes control away from employers and opens them up for lawsuits from disgruntled applicants.

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have introduced legislation this year dealing with credit checks in employment, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Rep. Larry Liston, a Colorado Springs Republican who chairs the committee likely to hear the Carroll’s bill in the House, implied a chilly reception for the proposal.

“There are a lot of reasons why a business may need this information,” he said. “There are some very sensitive positions, dealing with state contracts and other financial decisions. Companies should have the ability to do that if they need to.”

LINK: Senate Bill 3

– By Ivan Moreno, AP Writer

Associated Press writer Kristen Wyatt contributed.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • chris O'Dell

    You have failed to do your research on this bill, once again. The bill will affect the ability of employers (other than banks and securities companies) to get bonds against employee theft. If employers like property managers can’t get bonds for their employees, losses caused by employee theft will not be covered and every property owner, including corporations will lose money. Further, employees who do not handle money are already covered by state and federal law. The state law you can read in your link to the bill. Federal discrimination law also prevents an employer from using credit information for a applicant where the information is not relevant to the job. If an employee has a number of collections against them or owes a lot of money, this can serve as an incentive to steal, and it does in fact do this. Under this law, for instance a race track that handles millions of dollars in cash wouldn’t be able to get a bond for employees and if the employees stole money, the employer would take the loss. How is this fair? This bill is unnecessary an punitive. There is already a law which prohibits the employer from using this information unless it is related to the job. What’s wrong with that? Morgan Carroll isn’t even arguing that point. This proposed law is ridiculous.

    • justsane

      the link that you refer to is the PROPOSED legislation. if 60% of employers are using credit checks as a screening tool, i would venture to say that we do need this legislation. given that the law includes exceptions for employees in positions to handle money or otherwise make financial decisions (sect. 2,3.a.) i can’t see how this is in any way punitive, or interferes with the ability of companies to do business.

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