A state House committee today defeated a measure that would have restricted the use of credit histories in employment screening.
The vote against SB-3, sponsored by Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, and carried in the House by Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins, ran along party lines with six Republicans voting against five Democrats on the committee.
With little comment before the vote — and after 2½ hours of testimony evenly distributed among proponents and opponents — Republicans killed a measure that survived a contentious battle in the Senate.
"I was a personnel human resources person who hired hundreds of people ... from day laborers to financial vice presidents," said Rep. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs. "Compelling to me is there is no correlation to credit history and job performance."
Apparent in Republican questioning of witnesses offering testimony was a desire for hard numbers showing job applicants who were actually denied jobs — or the ability to apply for one — because of a bad credit history.
"Is there any data that the employer is not using an applicant's qualifications to do a job?" asked Rep. Libby Szabo, R-Arvada, of a witness who noted how many jobs posted to CraigsList.com indicate a requirement for a credit background check.
Credit histories are used by 60 percent of all companies as pre-employment screening tools, according to the Society for Human Resource Management — 13 percent for all jobs and 47 percent for specific jobs. Although that has not changed over the past few years, the number of applicants with blemished credit records has risen with the adverse economy.
Federal law requires companies to get applicants' written permission before pulling their credit histories, but in a tight job market, applicants are less likely to say no.
The bill originally aimed to limit the use of credit histories in employment screening to only those jobs that are relevant to the background, such as financial positions that handle a lot of money or those workers in a position of trust over the elderly or vulnerable.
But a contentious battle in the Senate, with some members shouting down others and demanding sanctions against a variety of conduct, ended with the bill taking on every form of employment, a virtual death knell for the Republican-controlled House.
Limiting employer access to credit histories is an idea that's been gathering steam nationwide.
Colorado was one of 19 states, along with the District of Columbia, considering 34 pieces of legislation this year that touch on the topic — whether for a new hire or for a promotion. Seven states, California being the most recent, have passed laws limiting the use of credit information in hiring.
David Migoya: 303-954-1506 or firstname.lastname@example.org