The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

There Law in the US ensures that the currenly unemployed may never again be employed.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/4/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,029 times Debate No: 19666
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (1)




This debate asserts that US law, specifically Title 15 USC, prevents the unemployed from getting employment. The relevant portion of the applicable Statute concerns Investigative Consumer Reports. Title 15 USC goes by the colloquial “Fair Debt Collection Practices Act”.

The term "investigative consumer report" means a consumer report or portion thereof in which information on a consumer's character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living is obtained through personal interviews with neighbors, friends, or associates of the consumer reported on or with others with whom he is acquainted or who may have knowledge concerning any such items of information. However, such information shall not include specific factual information on a consumer's credit record obtained directly from a creditor of the consumer or from a consumer reporting agency when such information was obtained directly from a creditor of the consumer or from the consumer. (FDIC §603(e))

Every employer was given the authority to attach employment, promotions, etc. to the results of an ICR. There are requirements purportedly to protect the individual, not the least of which is you are under no obligation, legally, to sign the required form granting the employer permission. The ICR as used prevents any long term unemployed from getting a job because, as currently used, outside agencies gather the information based on criteria provided by the employers and failure to provide your information to the third party results in one not being permitted to even get an application.

The methods in place for the “consumers” protection all involve remedies at Law. The burden is on the consumer to establish, in the preponderance, that the consumers failure to waive his rights is the reason he was not employed and/or promoted. If, however, he waives his rights, he may, and usually does, not have any remedy at Law.

Ergo, the Law has created an unemployed class of those who do not use credit cards, support privacy, and choose to retain all Creator given inalienable Rights. (Declaration of Independence)



In blaming the consumer credit protection laws located within Title 15 of the U.S. Code for “prevent[ing] the unemployed from getting employment,” Pro displays a profound ignorance of what that those laws actually do. Nothing in Title 15 authorizes employers to perform background credit checks on job applicants; employers already had the right to perform background credit checks on job applicants before anything in Title 15 was passed. Unless expressly prohibited by other laws (i.e., anti-discrimination laws), employers can ask job applicants to do anything they want.

In any event, Pro failed to prove that a job applicant’s refusal to waive his “privacy rights” would actually cause the applicant to remain permanently unemployed, because not all employers require their applicants to submit to credit background checks. It isn’t even clear whether most employers require job applicants to submit to such checks. By any measure, then, Pro’s argument must be dismissed as irrational and erroneous.

1. Title 15 of the U.S. Code doesn’t let employers do anything they couldn’t do already

Unfortunately, Pro’s Round 1 argument was riddled with mistakes about Title 15 of the U.S. Code that need to be addressed. First of all, Title 15 is an enormous compendium of all federal statutes that have anything to do with “Commerce and Trade.” [1] Pro erroneously stated that the entire Title “goes colloquially by the Fair Debt Collections Practice Act,” when in reality the FDCPA is only a tiny part of Title 15 (Chapter 41, Subchapter V). [2] Furthermore, it is unclear why Pro cited the FDCPA at all, because that law regulates the practice of third party debt collectors, and has nothing to do with credit background checks or job applications. [ 3] The provision Pro cited to support his argument actually comes from a different law entirely, the Fair Credit Reporting Act. [4]

Putting aside Pro’s sloppy citation mistakes, his attempt to blame any of the consumer credit protection provisions within Title 15 for exacerbating unemployment is baseless. Those provisions do not empower or authorize employers to do anything they couldn’t do already. Consumer protection laws like the Fair Credit Reporting Act merely impose restrictions and oversight on what employers and credit agencies were doing before those laws existed.

To the extent that Pro blames “U.S. law” for infringing on privacy rights or contributing to unemployment, he is lamenting the non-existence of a stronger consumer credit protection law. Until such a law actually gets enacted, Pro cannot blame Title 15 for the behavior of private employers. By that logic, Pro could blame "the law" for causing loneliness because women aren't legally obligated to accept date requests.

2. Background credit checks are not a significant bar to employment

Not all employers require their job applicants to submit to background credit checks. Pro didn’t even allege (much less prove) that most employers require background credit checks. If an unemployed individual doesn’t want to divulge his credit history to employers or third party credit agencies, he can simply choose to work for an employer that doesn’t require such information.

3. Prohibiting background credit checks would probably increase unemployment

Lastly, it is likely that a law prohibiting employers to conduct background credit checks on job applicants would actually increase unemployment, because some employers might be less willing to hire new employees if they have no way of verifying a job applicant's financial responsibility. This would not be fair to job applicants who are willing to submit to such background checks.

[2] 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692—1692p, available at
[4] (codified at 15 USC § 1681 et seq.)
Debate Round No. 1


Let me first attempt to be clear, and to state things I thought not need be stated. One shall find that I avoid listing those things which are not. It is for this reason that I did not list, in its entirety, title 15 USC, but did cite the definition for the relvant part of said statute. My opponent is correct, it should not be there but it is there nonetheless.

Legislative History of ICR

In 2000, after much lobbying from the insurance industry, congress (both houses) passed a bill title FDCPA Reform. By and through this legislation, buried in the minutia of the fine print, was the incorporation of tying one’s employment to ones credit score. Also, for the first time in US history, an employer was given the legal authority, (operative word being legal) to require a prospective employee to be evaluated by a third party for credit worthiness. Included, but not limited to or exhaustive, was the granting of this third party to gather information heretofore estopped by law being gathered by employers. These things include, but are not limited to, age, sex, credit score, race, and SSN. Prior to this reprehensible law no employer was permitted to have any of the above unless and until they hired an applicant.

Inasmuch as no one can prove the negative, my opponent is free to cite the authority for age and gender bias in an application prior to the passing of the ICR portion of the FDCPA.

The rationale for the ICR is, and was, that those who steal from employers tend to have low credit scores. Fallacious, but that is the reason from AIG et al. The result is, those who pay cash and do not use credit are refused employment. Those who fall behind on their payments because of layoffs or government bail outs, are refused employment. Those who have neighbors who do not like them may be refused employment. Those with the wrong personality type, are refused employment. All of the above is now possible under the ICR portion of Title 15 USC.

I shall address my opponents concern over form and use standard Blue Book Citations of Primary and Secondary sources only, as is common in the practice of Law and would ask he do the same. (non government web sites do not qualify) It is my understanding that no case involving ICR’s has sought certiari.

My opponents statement of the Law regarding ICRs is mistaken. In fact not only are employers allowed to do that which was illegal, but they are encouraged and rewarded by insurance companies and advised by legal counsel on how to do same. Should one desire an example of the use of same kindly go to Sears web page and attempt to fill out an application without signing (electronically) the waiver.

The issue is not that the government knows what it has done, rather it is the now legal probabilities and actual effect of a portion of a federal statute.

Lastly, a credit check is not an ICR. I apologize for listing a “not” but my opponent seems confused. Credit checks are those things done by creditors when one seeks credit from them, ICRs are a separate entity and have nothing to do with a loan. In fact it is now a stand alone industry, to use the term broadly. In fact an ICR contains no credit information normally found on a credit report.

Legal Authorities Relied Upon

TItle 15 USC§603§1681


FTC Information sheets



LiberalHoyaLawya forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


“employers already had the right to perform background credit checks on job applicants before anything in Title 15 was passed.”

The above quote was that which my opponent attempted to support with his pointing out the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In 2000, the year in question, he claimed employers had the right ect. First, employers have no rights under the law, rights are reserved for the individual. He speaks of “background” checks. If calling a reference is a background check, he is correct. A brief review of his terminology particularly the term Background checks. I agree that there was a civil rights act of 1964. I also agree that in 1802 there was no income tax. The point, post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy used by my opponent.

Inasmuch as my opponent accepts by his silence the rest of my statements I shall offer a practical hypothetical which will show the effect of the ICR provision.

"Investigative consumer reports are a special type of consumer report in which information about a consumer's character, general reputation, personal characteristics, and mode of living is obtained through personal interviews. Consumers who are the subjects of such reports are given special rights under the FCRA. If a user intends to obtain an investigative consumer report, Section 606 of the FCRA requires the following:

The user must disclose to the consumer that an investigative consumer report may be obtained. This must be done... Section 609 of the FCRA. …

Upon the written request of a consumer made within a reasonable period of time after the disclosures required above, the user must make a complete disclosure of the nature and scope of the investigation that was requested. This must be made in a written statement that is mailed, or otherwise delivered, to the consumer no later than five days after the date on which the request was received from the consumer or the report was first requested, whichever is later in time." (

John Smith has been laid off from his job of 15 years where he was a Screw Machine Machinist. John has always lived within his means, he has no credit cards because he only buys what he can afford. He purchased his home after saving the money and has had it for almost 20 years. He begins the process of seeking employment and is confronted with the above referenced disclosure, as well as a waiver of his rights under various federal employment Laws. He refuses to sign the waiver as it clearly states he is not required to sign. He is contacted by no one, not even for the dish washer job.

John seeks advice from friends and the internet and finds that his paying cash his entire life means he has no credit information on file, no record with the three main credit reporting agencies. In fact one insurance agent tells him, “It’s like you don’t exist.” He asks an attorney his options. “Can you prove that is the reason you did not get hired?” John joins the ranks of long term unemployed through government interference.

No one in the above hypothetical violated any Law. No one is arguing that an employer has to hire every applicant. In this case the Law creates more problems than it solves. The above hypothetical is just as apt if the unemployed falls behind on his bills, or worse still upsets his neighbor so much that an accountant deems him of bad character. (see abvove)

The very real effect of the ICR is that there is now a class of people who, should the Law not change, may never work again. The United State Marine Corps taught us all that the first rule of leadership was to Do The Right Thing. It’s being legal does not make it Right.

The law is clear, should an employer have difficulty with my mode of living, reputation among those with whom an investigator spoke, or personal “characteristics” he may then refuse employment, terminate employment, refuse promotion, demote or cut pay. Skills and ability to do the job are conspicuous by their absence. Conformity and sameness seem to be the goal.



First, I must apologize to my opponent and to the readers for failing to submit an argument in time for Round 2. I cut my time too close and missed the deadline by a matter of seconds. In any event, I posted my Round 2 argument in segments in the comments section, and I thank my opponent for continuing to engage me as if I had posted on time.

Unfortunately, my opponent has been ignoring or dodging the majority of the arguments I have made throughout this entire debate. For any remaining undecided voters, allow me to summarize my arguments and Pro's failure to respond:

1. Background credit checks / "ICRs" were legal well before the existence of the laws he criticizes

Pro still doesn't seem to grasp the major fallacy of his argument. If a law doesn't prohibit conduct which was perfectly legal to do before the passage of that law, you cannot blame the law for that conduct. Pro asserted in Round 2 that background credit checks / "investigative consumer reports" (ICRs) were prohibited before the year 2000, without offering any legal citations or a shread of historical evidence showing that such conduct used to be illegal. Let me set the record straight on this point by citing the legislative history of the Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970, as recounted by the Electronic Privacy Information Center:

"The FCRA was passed to address a growing credit reporting industry in the United States that compiled 'consumer credit reports' and 'investigative consumer reports' on individuals. The FCRA was the first federal law to regulate the use of personal information by private businesses.

The first major credit reporting agency, Retail Credit Co, was started in 1899. Over the years, Retail Credit purchased smaller CRAs and expanded its business into selling reports to insurers and employers. By the 1960s, significant controversy surrounded the CRAs because their reports were sometimes used to deny services and opportunities, and individuals had no right to see what was in their file.

By the late 1960s, there was abuse in the industry. . . . [I]nvestigators were collecting "lifestyle" information on data subjects, including their sexual orientation, marital status, drinking habits, and cleanliness. The CRAs were maintaining outdated information, and in some cases, providing the file to law enforcement and to unauthorized persons. Public exposure of the industry resulted in Congressional inquiry and federal regulation of CRAs.

Years of legislative leadership by Representative Leonor Sullivan and Senator William Proxmire resulted in the passage of the FCRA in 1970... [1]

As this history makes clear, investigative consumer reports were legal and part of a "growing industry" well before the enactment of the consumer protection laws my opponent criticizes. If anything, Pro should be grateful that Congress has addressed the abuses of this industry at all.

2. Privacy-obsessed job applicants can simply work for employers who don't require background checks / ICRs

My opponent failed to address this argument entirely.

3. Most employers don't perform background checks / ICRs


4. Prohibiting ICRs might increase unemployment by scaring certain employers from hiring any new employees

Ditto. As an aside, I find it ironic that my opponent (a self-identified libertarian) stated that "employers have no rights under law," but that's an issue for another debate.

To conclude, I would like to briefly address my opponent's argument that ICRs create a "class of people who . . . may never work again." To the extent that there are people in the world being penalized for never having used a credit card or taking out any kind of a loan, this is an extraordinarily small "class" of people. But, unlike other classes who have faced real employment discriminaton in the past (i.e., women, racial minorities, etc), Pro's "class" of cash-only zealouts can actually do something about their plight: buy a credit card. Is that really so hard to do?

Vote Con.

Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by logicrules 6 years ago
Sorry, I missed the bulk of your apology posted in comments. I find the ICR a serious problem, and I think you, like most people think its about Credit, and it is not. Credit score is the only thing about credit in an ICR.
Posted by LiberalHoyaLawya 6 years ago
"Inasmuch as no one can prove the negative, my opponent is free to cite the authority for age and gender bias in an application prior to the passing of the ICR portion of the FDCPA."

Sure.  Prior to the passage of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, private employers were free to discriminate on the basis of age, just as private employers were free to discriminate on the basis of race or gender prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Even after the passage of those anti-discrimination laws, employers were granted permission to hire candidates for positions where age, race or gender could be reasonably considered in the hiring process (i.e., casting young applicants to play a young character in a play).

But if my opponent is looking for a law or regulation that explicitly grants private employers the "authority" to discriminate on the basis of race or gender, I would point out that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission promulgated a regulation in 1979 granting employers the explicit authority to enact affirmative action programs.  See Affirmative Action Appropriate Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, As Amended. 29 C.F.R. § 1608.1 (2004).

Unfortunately, my time is running short, but I think that's enough to say for this round.  I maintain that my opponent is blaming a law for allowing employers to do something they have always had the ability to do, and that, in any event, such employer conduct isn't that big a hurdle to acquiring a job.
Posted by LiberalHoyaLawya 6 years ago
Onto his arguments from Round 2...

"[F]or the first time in US history, an employer was given the legal authority, (operative word being legal) to require a prospective employee to be evaluated by a third party for credit worthiness. Included, but not limited to or exhaustive, was the granting of this third party to gather information heretofore estopped by law being gathered by employers. These things include, but are not limited to, age, sex, credit score, race, and SSN. Prior to this reprehensible law no employer was permitted to have any of the above unless and until they hired an applicant."

Here, my opponent is mistaken on how law works: unless a behavior or conduct is explicitly prohibited, it is legal.  I have the "legal authority" to pick my own nose, notwithstanding the fact that there isn't a law or regulation anywhere explicitly giving me permission to do it.  So, before the passage of any of the consumer credit protection laws of Title 15, employers did in fact have the "legal authority" to require prospective employees to submit to background checks.  It is obvious that my opponent bears the burden of proof in demonstrating otherwise, but he hasn't bothered to offer any citations for his legal conclusions.
Posted by LiberalHoyaLawya 6 years ago
As a preliminary matter, I should point out that my opponent failed to address two of the three arguments I made in Round 1. Those two arguments - (1) that job applicants have the option of working for employers who don't require background checks, and (2) that prohibiting background checks might decrease the willingness of some employers to hire any new employees - are devestating to his argument. Unless Pro disputes those two points in his final round, I will consider them conceded to me.

In addition, Pro's citation problems continued in Round 2. After citing the wrong law in Round 1, Pro didn't bother to include citations for any of the sweeping (and often erroneous) legal claims he made in Round 2. Given that my opponent's whole argument depends on a legal provision "buried in the minutia of the fine print," his inability to actually identify the law he's talking about is quite amusing.
Posted by LiberalHoyaLawya 6 years ago
Unfortunately, didn't let me submit my Round 2 argument in time. I was told I still had two minutes remaining on the clock, but when I clicked on the "review" button to publish my argument, it told me my time was up.

To indulge my opponent, I will post my argument for Round 2 in parts here on the comments section.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by wiploc 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro claims a class of permanently unemployed. his basis: a single hypothetical named John, who may or may not have been denied work based on his credit record. There is no showing that any significant category of people is actually likely to be denied work, or that people with no credit (like Joe) as opposed to terrible credit (like cheaters, liars, and con men) will tend to be denied jobs, or that credit ratings outweigh credentials, or people denied one job won't get the next.