AUGUSTA — Many Maine employers would be prohibited from considering an applicant’s credit history when making hiring decisions, under a bill that lawmakers will begin examining this week.

Rep. Scott Hamann, whose proposal will be examined by a legislative committee Wednesday, says a credit check often creates a “Catch-22” because it prevents a person who has struggled financially from getting the job needed to improve credit standing.

“Not only is a credit report not an accurate reflection of a person’s job performance,” but it also often includes inaccurate information, the Democrat from South Portland said. He points to a 2013 Federal Trade Commission study that showed 25 percent of consumers reported an error in at least one of their credit reports.

Eleven states – including Connecticut, Vermont and Illinois – have laws that restrict the use of a job applicant’s credit information, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The New York City council also approved similar legislation this month.

Hamann’s bill would make someone’s creditworthiness, credit rating, credit capacity, and debt or check-writing experience off limits to employers. A similar, but broader, bill was defeated in the Maine Legislature in 2013.

Hamann said he believes this proposal has a better chance because he took into account some of the concerns raised during the last debate and carved out several “reasonable” exemptions, including for employers in the financial services industry and when the job requires management of the company’s finances.


The Maine State Chamber of Commerce isn’t fond of the idea, but isn’t sure it will oppose the measure.

Peter Gore, vice president of government relations for the group, said that small businesses have just as much on the line as financial institutions and that there are many good reasons an employer would want to run a credit check.

“Do I have a reason to be worried? Is there a past history here that causes me some concern?” Gore said.

The Labor, Research and Economic Development Committee will hold a public hearing on the measure on Wednesday. It will be considered by the full House and Senate in the coming weeks.

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