N.Y.: NYC Restricts Employers’ Use of Consumer Credit Information

By Rosemarie Lally May 18, 2015

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a bill May 6, 2015, amending the city’s Human Rights Law (NYHRL) to make it an unlawful discriminatory practice to request or use an applicant’s consumer credit history in making employment decisions.

The Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment Act, passed April 16 by the New York City Council on a 47-3 vote, amends NYHRL to define “consumer credit history” as including written and other information obtained through credit reports, credit scores, or other information obtained directly from the applicant or employee about that individual’s creditworthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, or payment history.

The measure prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants or employees with respect to hiring, compensation, or the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment based on their consumer credit history.

Under the law employers may request the consumer credit history information of applicants and employees in response to any lawful subpoena, court order, or law enforcement investigation. Further, although the law provides no broad exemptions for the financial sector, it allows employers to request consumer credit information from applicants and employees in certain limited circumstances including when hiring for:

*Positions for which an employer is required by state or federal law, regulations, or a self-regulatory organization to use an individual's consumer credit history for employment purposes;

Police officer or public safety positions, or appointed positions in which a high degree of public trust is placed.

*Positions in which an employee is required to be bonded.

*Positions in which an employee is required to possess security clearance under federal or state law.

*Non-clerical positions that entail regular access to trade secrets, intelligence information, or national security information.

*Positions having signatory authority over third-party funds or assets valued at $10,000 or more;

Positions carrying a fiduciary responsibility to the employer with the authority to enter financial agreements valued at $10,000 or more on behalf of the employer.

*Positions with regular duties that allow the employee to modify digital security systems established to prevent the unauthorized use of the networks or databases of the employer or its clients.

The law goes into effect 120 days after its enactment.

Similar laws limiting employers' use of credit information in employment have been adopted by 11 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.

Rosemarie Lally, J.D., is a freelance legal writer and editor based in Washington, D.C.

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