New York City considering pre-employment credit check ban

once again introduced legislation that would prevent city employers from utilizing credit checks in determining whether a candidate is a good fit for a job. Jobs that require credit checks under state or federal law would, of course, be exempt from the new law, should it pass. Employers often utilize credit checks in determining whether a candidate would be a responsible employee, and so long as the company is not violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act, doing so is legal. (However, ten states — including the nearby Connecticut, Vermont and Maryland — have existing legislation that limits state employers’ use of credit checks in the hiring process.) The ban would prevent employers and employment agencies from conducting personal credit checks, in order to prevent discrimination based on race and/or economic disadvantage. A study by Demos showed that one in 10 people who would otherwise be qualified for a position are told they cannot be hired because of a bad credit report; however, the study also showed that, overwhelmingly, bad credit is often due to factors outside a person’s control, such as the faltering economy, crippling student loans and medical debt. Student debt is shown to disproportionately affect minority students, and medical debt is often due to an inability to maintain health insurance, which can be difficult if one cannot find work. “We want New Yorkers who apply for jobs or promotions to be judged by their qualifications and experience for the position, and not by whether they have enough money to pay their bills,” said Councilmember and Chief Sponsor Brad Lander. In addition, studies have found that white households are more likely to consider their credit scores “good,” while black families are more likely to describe theirs as “fair” or “poor.” By banning credit checks, the city could help reduce racial discrimination in employment, as well as assist those who are unemployed simply due to tough times, and not a lack of responsibility. The Council seats 51 members, and 40 of them are sponsors of the bill. Mayor Bill de Blasio has also been supportive of the legislation, at least in theory, but has not actually endorsed the bill. Similar legislation was introduced in 2013, but did not pass.]]>

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