Effective as of July 7, 2016, amendments to the Philadelphia, PA Fair Practices Ordinance make it an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer to procure, seek to procure, or use an applicant’s or employee’s credit information in connection with making any decisions relating to an individual’s hire, discharge, tenure, promotion, discipline, or in consideration of any other term or condition of employment.

For purposes of this ordinance, “credit information” is defined as any written, oral, or other communication of information regarding a person’s debt; credit worthiness, standing, capacity, score or history; payment history; charged-off debts; bank account balances or other information; or bankruptcies, judgments, liens, or items under collection.

Financial institutions – defined as any bank, savings and loan association, credit union, trust company, insurance or surety company, bank holding company, financial holding company, investment advisor, broker-dealer, entity registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or any subsidiary or affiliate thereof – are exempt from the law’s requirements, as are law enforcement agencies. Additional exceptions exist if credit information must be obtained under federal or state law, or if the position in question:

  • is supervisory or managerial in nature and involves setting the direction or policies of a business or a division, unit or similar part of a business;
  • involves significant financial responsibility to the employer, including the authority to make payments, transfer money, collect debts, or enter into contracts (but not including handling transactions in a retail setting);
  • requires access to financial information pertaining to customers, other employees, or the employer, other than information customarily provided in a retail transaction;
  • requires access to confidential or proprietary information that derives substantial value from secrecy;
  • requires an employee to be bonded under city, state or federal law.

The ordinance further provides that if an employer intends to rely, in whole or in part, on credit information to take adverse employment action under any of the above-bulleted exceptions, the employer must first: (i) disclose the fact of such reliance in writing to the applicant or employee; (ii) state the particular information relied upon; and (iii) must further provide the applicant or employee with an opportunity to explain the circumstances surrounding the information at issue prior to taking any adverse action.