WASHINGTON — More than a dozen Senate Democrats introduced legislation Wednesday that would prohibit employers from requiring job applicants to supply their credit histories.

The Equal Employment for All Act would amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act so that employers cannot require or even suggest that potential employees must provide a credit report as part of the application process. It also prohibits employers from procuring credit histories themselves and from disqualifying potential employees based on their credit information or a credit rating.

"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," said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., one of the bill's sponsors, in a press release. "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."

Critics of the current process argue that credit reports often contain errors and that there is little research supporting a link between credit history and work ability.

The bill is also sponsored by Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Al Franken, D-Minn., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and Edward Markey, D-Mass.

The bill is based on legislation introduced last Congress by Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn.

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