Praise Efforts to End Credit Discrimination Against Job Seekers

credit discrimination checks money jobs

Target: Councilman Brad Lander, New York City City Council et. al

Goal: Applaud New York City for banning employer credit checks on job seekers.

Employers are now banned from running credit checks on potential employees in New York City. The bill was passed with a 47-3 vote and also prohibits employers from asking applicants about their credit scores. Credit checks and scores have been used to unfairly discriminate against people who are otherwise qualified for the jobs they are applying for. Praise the ban, which will help eliminate discrimination against job seekers and help qualified individuals more easily obtain employment.

There are several reasons why employers use credit checks. Many employers believe that if a person is financially responsible then they will be responsible at work. If a person is in debt, potential employers often feel that will make them more likely to steal. Some think bad credit is an indication a potential hire is under significant stress, foreclosures show poor judgement, and bankruptcy or an inability to pay back lenders reveals a moral failing. Lastly, some feel it’s a necessary step for potential hires that would be working in positions with access to the financial information of clients or otherwise entrusted with money.

There are also several reasons why a job seeker’s credit report may be less than stellar that could not reflect on them personally such as medical debt, divorce, student loan debt, identity theft, errors, and the quite common situation where resolved credit issues are never actually removed from a person’s credit report. Students and recent graduates may have no credit history at all. Still, the last reason may be simplest of all: A job seeker may fall into debt because they have no money to pay their bills, hence why they were seeking a job in the first place.

That said, a job seeker’s credit cannot be checked without their permission. Some employers run the checks during the initial round of screenings of job seekers. Others use credit checks on potential hires after several screenings of a job candidate because credit checks cost the employer money. A job seeker could be discriminated against if they are out of the running because they refused to grant permission to have their credit checked at any stage.

This legislation prevents any of those scenarios from negatively impacting a job seeker’s chance at employment. Employers are also prevented from checking the credit history of anyone applying for any managerial position or any position at a financial institution, and anyone who uses a company credit card.

Credit screening is now a form of prohibited employment discrimination under New York City’s human rights law. Applaud this bill’s sponsor, Councilman Brad Lander, and the City Council for preventing employers from creating a link between personal debt and functioning responsibly at work.


Dear Councilman Lander,

I want to applaud your sponsorship of new legislation in New York City that bans employers from running credit checks on potential employees. Credit history checks have been used to unfairly discriminate against people who are otherwise qualified for the jobs they are applying for. This practice also has a built-in bias against low-income New Yorkers, and I am pleased to know it has now been banned.

As you know, there are several reasons why employers may prefer to perform these checks. I believe employers can use personal financial data to make an unacceptable series of assumptions about a job seeker’s character, ability to be responsible, and judgement. There are several reasons why a job seeker’s credit report may be considered poor that may not reflect on them personally anyway, such as medical debt, divorce, student loan debt, or identity theft.

This ban is considered to be one of the strongest in the country. Thank you for sponsoring it, protecting New Yorkers, and providing leadership in legislating unfair business practices.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: 401(K) 2012

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