Most New York City Employers May Soon Be Prohibited From Conducting Credit Checks on Job Applicants

April 21, 2015

On April 16, 2015, the New York City Council overwhelmingly passed an amendment to the New York City Human Rights Law that would bar most city employers from using credit checks as part of their hiring process.  Supporters of the bill argue that in most cases, an applicant’s consumer credit history has no direct correlation to their job performance, and an employer’s use of credit checks in hiring could have an adverse impact on minority job applicants, who are more likely to have poor credit histories. Similar to Article 23-A of the New York Correction Law, however, the bill does include exemptions for certain professions where there is, in fact, a direct relationship between a person’s credit history and his/her fitness or ability to perform the job.  Exempted professions include high-level executives who have financial authority over company or third-party funds or assets worth more than $10,000, elected officials, police officers, and workers who are required to have security clearance under federal or state law, such as those having access to intelligence, national security information, or trade secrets.  By focusing employer exemptions on particular job duties as opposed to excluding entire industries, such as banks, this bill has broader coverage than similar laws in other jurisdictions. If the amendment is signed into law by Mayor de Blasio, New York City would join 10 states and Chicago in barring employer credit checks in hiring.