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New York City employers banned from running credit checks on job applicants

According to the New York City Economic Development Corporation, as of the end of July, the city's private and government employers are responsible for the employment of more than 4.2 million workers. Within recent years, competition among businesses for the most-qualified job candidates resulted in a vetting process that some argued was becoming increasingly burdensome and discriminatory in nature.

Last May, Mayor Bill de Blasio took action to reduce incidences of discrimination within the hiring practices of local businesses. One of the most controversial of de Blasio's initiatives centers on the previously common practice of running credit checks on job applicants.

 

Aimed to weed out job applicants with marred financial and credit histories, many argued that credit checks also engendered widespread discrimination against job applicants who may have suffered past financial hardships. The Mayor's decision to ban employers from running credit checks is a win for employee-rights advocates who argue that many qualified candidates were being unfairly passed over for jobs due to economic difficulties that may have resulted from the recent recession.

While employers in certain industries and applicants for certain positions are exempt from the law, thousands of employers must comply with the new law or face fines of up to $250,000. Additionally, employers who continue to run credit checks may also face legal action from job applicants who may accuse a potential employer of discrimination.

The swift enaction of and apparent lack of education about the law has raised concerns within New York City's business community that some business owners may unknowingly violate the law simply because they aren't aware of the ban.

New York City job applicants, who believe they have suffered discrimination due to a questionable credit history, may choose to consult with an attorney. An attorney who is well-versed in employment law matters can answer questions, assess whether legal action is warranted and, if so, provide strong legal representation.

Source: Crain's New York Business, "Businesses face fines for credit checks, starting today," Andrew J. Hawkins, Sept. 3, 2015

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