On September 12, the New York City Council held a hearing on a bill (Int. 0261-2014) that would effectively prohibit employers from inquiring about or using an individual’s credit history in hiring and personnel decisions, unless required by law.  The initiative enjoys wide support among members of the Council, though Mayor Bill DeBlasio and some financial and retail industry groups have expressed reservations about the lack of exceptions in the bill.

To date, ten states—California, Maryland, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Washington, Oregon, Vermont, Colorado, and Nevada—and at least two localities—Chicago and Madison (WI)—have restricted the use of credit history for purposes of employment.  All of these laws contain broader exceptions than the one found in the NYC proposal.  Common exceptions allow employers to conduct credit checks (even when not required by law) on individuals who are in management positions or who have access to or control over company or customer financial accounts or cash.

The NYC Council had introduced a similar proposal last legislative session that also received push back from then Mayor Michael Bloomberg (as discussed in our prior client alert).  That bill died in committee.  Stay tuned to see whether this year’s proposal becomes law.