Oregon is one of the states that strictly limit the circumstances in which employers may use credit reports in making employment decisions. Like employers in other states, Oregon employers must follow the notice and authorization requirements of the federal Fair Credit Practices Act (FCRA), to make sure applicants and employees know when their credit reports are used and have an opportunity to correct errors in those reports. (For more information on what the FCRA requires, see our article Can Prospective Employers Check Your Credit Report?)
In Oregon, however, employers may not check an applicant’s or employee’s credit report or consider credit history in making job decisions, except in limited situations.
Oregon Ban on Using Credit Information
Oregon employers may not obtain or use credit history relating to an employee or applicant for the purpose of making employment decisions. Employer may not fire, refuse to hire, demote, suspend, retaliate against, or discriminate against anyone in promotion, compensation, or other terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, based on that person’s credit history. Credit history refers to any written or other communication by a consumer reporting agency (such as a credit bureau) that bears on the subject’s credit standing, credit capacity, or creditworthiness.
Exceptions for Certain Employers and Employees
Although Oregon generally bans employers from considering credit history in making employment decisions, there are a handful of exceptions. The prohibition does not apply to:
- employers that are federally insured banks or credit unions
- employers that are required by state or federal law to use credit history for employment purposes, or
- the employment of certain public safety officers.
In addition to these exceptions, the law includes a broader exclusion that allows employers to check or use credit history if that information is substantially related to the job and the employer discloses its reasons for using the information, in writing, to the employee or applicant. Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) has said that credit information is substantially related to a job if:
- one of the job’s essential functions requires access to financial information not customarily required in retail transactions other than a loan or extension of credit (that is, beyond check information or debit or credit card numbers), or
- the employer is required to check credit history as a condition of bonding or insuring the employee.
BOLI has said that employers should apply this exception with care. While an employee who has to check customer sources of income, amounts of income, and financial institution account numbers (for example, to approve a mortgage) would likely fit within the exception, a cashier or waitperson would probably not.