Credit History Use Hurt African Americans, EEOC Lawsuit Alleges

A leading test preparation company violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by refusing to hire applicants with poor credit histories, a practice that discriminates against African Americans and is not justified by business necessity, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged in a lawsuit filed in the federal district court in Washington, D.C. yesterday.

The defendant, the Washington Post Company’s Kaplan Higher Education unit, responded that it uses credit histories for positions involving financial matters, such as advising students on financial aid and that lots of companies also do credit checks in making personnel decisions.

The use of credit histories was the topic at a public meeting the EEOC held this past October.

This lawsuit is further proof that EEOC frowns on the practice of using credit histories to make personnel decisions and will haul employers into court if necessary to put an end to it.

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