New York City lawmakers are barring most employers from checking a job candidate's credit record.
The city council passed a bill that makes it illegal to request or use a job applicant's credit history in making a hiring decision. However, the legislation does permit employers to use credit checks in certain cases. For example, the police department could review a person's credit history in hiring new officers, and employers could use the checks in considering candidates for jobs that involve cybersecurity or fiduciary duties.
"All New Yorkers deserve the chance to compete for a job based on their skills and qualifications, not three digits on a financial report," said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito in a statement after the measure was approved by a margin of 47-3. "Just because you've struggled with medical bills or student loans does not make you any less hard working, qualified, or trustworthy than anyone else."
City council member Brad Lander, who sponsored the legislation, said in a press conference that credit checks for employment "unfairly lock" New Yorkers out of jobs.
Using credit data to screen job hunters has drawn fire from labor and consumer advocates, who say such information is a poor predictor of a worker's performance. The practice also discriminates against low-income people and unfairly penalizes women and victims of domestic violence, critics contend, who note that bad credit often stems from an extended period of unemployment or high levels of medical debt.