McDuffie introduces bill to expand employment opportunities

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Washington, D.C. – On Tuesday, June 2, 2015, Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie (D – Ward 5) introduced a bill that will remove hurdles in obtaining employment for chronically-unemployed District of Columbia residents.

The “Fair Credit History Screening Act of 2015” will prohibit an employer from considering a job applicant’s credit history during the hiring process, and will restrict an employer’s inquiry into an applicant’s credit history until after a conditional offer of employment. “This bill will abolish restrictions that unjustly exacerbate challenges faced by applicants who are already having difficulty with finding employment, and making ends meet,” said McDuffie. “As a result, we will create economic opportunities for more of our most vulnerable residents.”

According to a recent survey, 1 in 10 people who are unemployed have been informed that they would not be hired due to information in their credit report [1]. Among job applicants with blemished credit histories, 1 in 7 has been advised that they were not being hired because of their credit [2]. The survey’s results demonstrate that such screenings disproportionately affect minority populations and the chronically unemployed, particularly the homeless, those who have poor credit, or no credit at all.

The “Fair Credit History Screening Act of 2015” also incorporates public and private sector work capacity concerns with certain types of employment. Similar to the “Fair Criminal Records Screening Act”, employers with a legitimate business reason, or employers acting in accordance with existing District or federal law, will be exempted. The burden, nonetheless, remains on the employer to demonstrate qualification for such an exemption. Finally, the bill establishes a complaint process and penalties against alleged violators.
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[1] Traub, Amy. Discredited: How Employment Checks Keep Qualified Workers out of a Job. Rep. N.p., Feb. 2013. Web.
[2] Id.

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