Everyone knows having a bad credit score makes it harder to get approved for a car loan or a mortgage. But did you know bad credit could also keep you from getting a job? Even if what led to financial difficulty was thousands of dollars in medical debt? According to a recent New York Times story, this is precisely what happened to an uninsured man who said he was repeatedly turned down for jobs as a shoe salesman after potential employers ran a credit check on him. Crushing medical bills from a knee injury forced him to file for bankruptcy. But why should such an unfortunate situation keep anyone from getting a job?
The practice of credit screenings on potential employees is legal in most states. The employers that do this claim that a person’s “fiscal responsibility” is justifiable evidence of his or her moral character, and therefore, fitness to do the job. But getting sick or injured and being unable to afford unreasonably high medical bills isn’t evidence of bad character. What is immoral is a society that creates the circumstances that push people over the financial edge and then punishes them by denying them the opportunity to get back on their feet.