Credit History Discrimination

There is a bill before the New York City Council that, if passed into law, would prohibit employers from using credit histories in hiring except in the very few cases where credit checks are required by law. This bill would be the strongest such law in the country.

Many employers used credit checks to screen job applicants, even though research has shown that people with damaged credit are not automatically poor job risks. Moreover, the credit agencies that compile and sell records on about 200 million American make mistakes and these erroneous reports could shut people out of the job market.

The New York City Council had a hearing on this issue recently in which a 30 year military veteran who had been deployed in Iraq testified that he had been turned down for a job as an airport passenger screener with the Transportation Security Administration because of a mistake on his credit report. By the time he got the mistake resolved, he said, the job had been filled. One might ask, even if this gentleman’s credit report was correct, how does an inferior credit rating disqualify him from screening passengers? By using credit histories, employers have created a disadvantaged class that could be permanently locked out of the economy.

New Jersey has a similarly minded bill pending in its legislature. This bill prohibits an employer from requiring a credit check on a current or prospective employee as a condition of employment, unless the employer is required to do so by law, or is a bona fide occupation requirement of a particular position. It also prohibits retaliation against an employee or prospective employee who asserts his or her rights under the bill.

If you believe you have been the victim of credit history discrimination consult a reputable employment law attorney to determine your rights.