Monday, January 13, 2014

Inequality Is ‘The Defining Challenge of Our Time’

Denying People Work Based On Loss of Credit Is a Mode of Inequality

For years now, credit-reporting agencies have been selling credit histories to employers. Because of a poor credit history, many seeking work have been denied employment, and inequality has taken a giant leap forward.

For years now, credit-reporting agencies have been selling credit histories to employers. Because of a poor credit history, many seeking work have been denied employment, and inequality has taken a giant leap forward.

Most folks at the top of the economic ladder will not suffer from economic downturns. However, the folks further down that lost jobs will increasingly depend on credit to make up for lost income. Demand for goods and services when economic times are good or bad is what sustains those at the top, while those who lost jobs experience a loss of what otherwise was a good credit rating, consequently losing the opportunity to work and what sustains their lives.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) characterized the problem best: “A bad credit rating is far more often the result of unexpected medical costs, unemployment, economic downturns, or other bad breaks than it is a reflection on an individual's character or abilities. Families have not fully recovered from the 2008 financial crisis, and too many Americans are still searching for jobs. This is about basic fairness -- let people compete on the merits, not on whether they already have enough money to pay all their bills.”

Additionally, credit-reporting errors are notoriously common and often difficult to correct. And, the economic damage to those who cannot find work because of a poor credit score is greater than their mere loss of income.

It’s a problem that needed to be addressed a long time ago, and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has taken on the task of fixing the problem. In December of last year, she introduced the Equal Employment for All Act. The act is proposed legislation that prohibits current or prospective employers from requiring consumer credit report disclosures as a condition of employment.

We usually think of inequality as the monetary difference between rich and poor, but there are other modes of inequality. Denying people work who desperately need it because they ran into hard times and lost their credit is one of them. Many have described the issue of inequality as “the defining challenge of our time.” And it is.

The passing of the Equal Employment for All Act will benefit low-wage workers, minority communities, and women in the hiring process as well as in their current employment.

The proposed legislation has the backing of 40 community, financial reform, labor, and civil rights organizations, and deserves the backing of all Americans.

Copyright © 2014 Horatio Green





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