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New York City prohibits credit checks of job seekers

Employment discrimination is somewhat like the electronic game involving a mole, where every time you hit a mole in a hole, another mole pops up in a different hole. One reason the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has been amended so many times over the last 50 years is that as one area of discrimination is reduced, other types of employment discrimination become more apparent.

Pre-employment discrimination is difficult to deal with, because it can appear so subtle and as we mentioned recently, employers tend not to provide job seekers detailed information on why they were not hired. And they certainly would not tell a disappointed applicant that they had not received a job offer because they are a woman, or because of their race, religion or any other of the prohibited categories.

One of those subtle areas of discrimination has been the employment credit check. New York City has now banned this check, which often had the effect of discriminating against racial groups and the poor.

A negative credit check may be the result difficulty finding work, so stigmatizing such job applicants and creating an even greater hurdle for them to overcome to obtain employment. Studies have found that many people in these groups have also been targeted for predatory lending practices, which can increase their financial problems.

There is no empirical link between poor credit ratings and worker productivity or reliability. The New York City law also goes further than similar laws in California and Maryland, in that it prohibits credit checks for all positions including those involving access to money or supervisory positions.

Source: prospect.org, "The Progressive Victory You Haven't Heard Of: NYC's Ban on Employment Credit Checks," Amy Traub, July 9, 2015

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