July 28, 2023

Senator Warren, Representative Cohen Reintroduce Equal Employment for All Act

The Equal Employment for All Act ensures hiring and other employment decisions are made based on an individual’s merits — not their credit reports

One Pager (PDF) | Bill Text (PDF)

Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Representative Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) reintroduced the Equal Employment for All Act to protect job seekers from unfair discrimination from employers based on credit ratings. The legislation would safeguard job applicants from being forced to disclose their credit history as part of an employer's application process. 

The bill bars employers from requiring or suggesting that applicants disclose their credit history and from procuring a consumer or investigative report, prohibits credit reporting agencies from providing credit reports to employers for use in employment decisions, and prohibits employers from disqualifying employees based on a poor credit rating. 

“There’s no reason employers should use credit ratings as a part of a prospective employee’s application process,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “The Equal Employment for All Act makes sure people looking for jobs aren’t discriminated against based on their financial history, and gives those who are struggling a fighting chance to get back in the game.”

“It is unconscionable and unjust to decide whether or not a person should be hired simply by looking at their credit score—a number that is often constructed to put profit before people and is blind to the realities working people face in our country today,” said Senator Ed Markey. “The Equal Employment for All Act will help uphold equal opportunity in the job market by ensuring that credit history isn’t an unfair barrier applicants face in the hiring process.”

“Using a credit rating in the job hiring process to determine an individual’s merits is ridiculous and arbitrary,” said Senator Ron Wyden. “Employers should never deny someone a job opportunity based solely on an individual’s financial history-- it is discrimination. That’s why I’m proud to join my colleagues to introduce legislation that would protect job applicants from being forced to disclose their credit history.” 

“The doors of opportunity aren’t open to everyone when employers and landlords use past credit history to make hiring and housing decisions,” said Senator Jeff Merkley. “This discriminatory practice unjustly affects women and people of color, and must come to an end.”

“Including credit checks in a hiring process keeps people trapped in the cycle of poverty, and disproportionately affects those from marginalized communities. Unemployment can result in a bad credit score, which can prevent a person from getting a job, continuing the cycle,” said Senator John Fetterman. “This bill will create more equitable employment opportunities and help working families.”

“A poor credit score should not define an individual's qualifications or potential to contribute to the workforce,” said Senator Dick Durbin. “With the Equal Employment for All Act, we can take a crucial step toward breaking down barriers and promoting equal opportunity.”

Following the 2008 financial crisis, millions of Americans confronted job loss, shrinking home prices, and depreciated savings. For too many, the fallout from the crisis also damaged their credit. Moreover, poor credit disproportionately targets women, minorities, and those already struggling financially. The Equal Employment for All Act will lower the bar to access for work for these communities especially, better their financial circumstances, and grow local economies across the country.

The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), John Fetterman (D-Pa.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), and Representatives Alma Adams (D-N.C.), Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Kevin Mullin (D-Calif.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).

The legislation is endorsed by: the American Association of People with Disabilities, Americans for Financial Reform, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Center for Law and Social Policy, Consumer Action, Demos, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Mobilization for Justice, NAACP, National Consumer Law Center, National Employment Law Project, National Employment Lawyers Association, National Fair Housing Alliance, National Network to End Domestic Violence, National Partnership for Women and Families, National Women’s Law Center, National Workrights Institute, New Economy Project, PolicyLink, Unidos, Women Employed, Main Street Alliance, Small Business Majority, Consumer Federation of America, New York Legal Assistance Group, National Organization for Women, National Black Justice Coalition, Job Opportunity Task Force, AFL-CIO, Public Citizen, The National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, National Association of Consumer Advocates, SEIU, AFSCME, and AFGE.

Senator Warren has long advocated for American workers, including: 

  • On July 26, 2023, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) sent a letter to Federal Reserve (Fed) Chair Jerome Powell, raising concern over the disproportionate impact of the Fed’s monetary policy on Black workers. This letter comes after significant increases in Black unemployment since April, jumping 1.3 percentage points to 6% in June. Black workers account for nearly 90% of the nearly 300,000 people who have become unemployed between April and June.
  • On July 6, 2023, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) sent a letter to Bed Bath & Beyond CEO Sue Gove following reports that the company attempted to avoid paying severance to its workers during the store closings leading up to its bankruptcy after spending more than $11 billion in stock buybacks since 2004.
  • In September 2022, Senator Warren joined Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in sending a letter to Corbel Capital Partners’ CEO Jeffrey Schwartz in support of workers affected by the recent and unexpected closure of LandAir.
  • In November 2021, Senator Warren and Representative Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) sent a letter to BC Partners, the private equity firm that owns PetSmart, regarding reports that cost-cutting measures and mismanagement of the company have endangered the safety of both PetSmart’s workers and pets entrusted in PetSmart’s care.
  • In July 2020, Senators Warren and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), along with Representative Lori Trahan (D-Mass.) sent a letter to Brooks Brothers Group, Inc. Chairman and CEO Claudio Del Vecchio requesting that the company provide fair severance to the 413 employees set to be laid off at the company’s Southwick facility in the coming weeks.
  • In July 2019, Senator Warren and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to private equity firm Sun Capital expressing alarm about reports that the firm, after years of looting the discount retailer Shopko and then driving it into bankruptcy, plans to break its promise to make severance payments to thousands of dedicated Shopko employees.
  • In October 2018, she demanded answers from Vornado Realty Trust and five hedge funds on their role in the liquidation of Toys "R" Us, which resulted in 30,000 workers losing their jobs without severance pay-after it was revealed that the company's bankruptcy was the result of the leveraged buyout of the company in 2005 by two private equity firms.