After about a year and a half, the case EEOC v. Kaplan Higher Learning Education Corporation (Case No. 1:10-CV-2882), has finally been decided. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio dismissed claims that using credit reports as part of a hiring procedure created adverse impact on applicants, particularly African Americans.

To summarize, Kaplan Higher Learning was seeking to a fill position within their financial aid department, responsible for several locations. The responsibilities of this position would require the handling of large sums of money. They decided to use a credit report to determine if the applicants were under a certain amount of financial pressure that might encourage theft.

As the case presented lacked consensus on whether or not the expert’s testimony was reliable. In short, without sufficient data kept on the applicants, the court was not able to determine the validity of the EEOC’s claim. The EEOC did attempt to recreate the applicant pool used, in an attempt to prove discrimination against whole groups of applicants. However, without proper documentation of the results claimed, the case was dismissed.

It is important to note that the court did not determine or rule whether or not credit reports have any kind of adverse impact on applicants. Keeping accurate and sufficient data from the beginning could have resolved this case early on. Using hard and fast data on a person’s monetary obligations could play a part in a financial institution’s decision to hire or not, but we all know these sort of judgments severely limit the pool of applicants and that credit reports do not always indicate a person’s true character.

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