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NYC Employers: Check those Credit Check Processes!

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On April 16, 2015, New York City joined a host of other jurisdictions which restrict the use of credit history for the purposes of employment. By a vote of 47-3, the New York City Council amended the NYC Human Rights Law to make it an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer with more than 4 employees to use an individual’s consumer credit history when making employment decisions. Along with ten states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington) and two other cities (Chicago and Madison, WI), NYC employers may not inquire into or even consider a prospective or current employee’s credit history in respect to any employment decisions made. Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the bill into law.

The bill defines consumer credit history as an individual’s creditworthiness, credit standing, credit capacity or payment history, and encompasses information obtained from the applicant or current employee regarding prior bankruptcies, liens or judgments, plus the number of credit accounts belonging to the employee, late or missed payments, charged-off debts, credit limit, items in collections, or prior credit report inquiries.

There are some exemptions set forth in the bill, which include:

  • Employers required to consider credit history under state or federal laws and regulations, or by a self-regulatory organization as defined under section 3(a)(26) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934;
  • Employment positions with signatory authority over third party funds of $10,000 or more, or authority to enter into financial agreements valued at $10,000 or more on behalf of the employer;
  • Employment positions requiring security clearance under federal or state law;
  • Employment positions requiring bonding under federal, state or city law;
  • Various public safety positions (i.e., certain police officers, peace officers, and others in a position with law enforcement involving investigative functions);
  • Non-clerical positions having regular access to trade secrets, intelligence information or national security information; and
  • Employment positions that allow the employee to modify digital security systems protecting the employer or its clients’ networks and databases.

While this bill, if or when it becomes law, has limited application to ACCA’s overall membership, we believe that the language will be used for future legislation in additional states and cities. We encourage all of our contractors currently in these impacted areas to review their employment policies and modify background check procedures to ensure compliance.

Hilary Atkins

Posted In: Government, Legal

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