Maryland House Bill 87, called the Job Applicant Fairness Act, was introduced by Delegate Kirill Reznik in January seeking to restrict the use of credit checks in making employment based decisions. The bill would prohibit Maryland employers, with a few exceptions, from using a person’s credit history as a screening tool for hiring and retention decisions. This move is made in order to protect employment opportunities for mostly blue collared workers, teachers, janitors, nurses and excludes positions such as CFO or those dealing with finances in an organization. The idea behind the bill is to dispel the concept that a bad credit is an indicator of a bad person or character. In times of economic downturns, an unexpected medical problem, messy divorce or even unemployment can land you with a poor credit report and can adversely affect employment opportunities for an already down-on-luck person.
In the recent years we have seen a move by many States to restrict credit checks as part of employment screening. Washington passed the first employer credit report restriction law in 2007, and Hawaii followed with the second law in 2009. In 2010, at least 17 states considered such legislation and two laws were enacted—in Illinois and Oregon. Maryland has recently joined the foray and the bill once passed will go into effect on Oct 1 2011.
The Job Applicant Fairness Act allows an employer to conduct a credit check if the position is managerial, or influences the direction of the company, business unit, division; or if the employees job responsibilities include financial dealing such as issue of payments; the employee is provided a company debit/credit card; or if the employee has access to information that has economic value to the organization.