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(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Ruben J. Ramos Jr. and Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker to prohibit employers from requiring credit checks as a condition of employment is advancing toward law.
“We all know this is a tough economy, but in most cases I see no legitimate reason for making a credit check a condition of employment,” said Ramos (D-Hudson). “Let’s be fair here and require credit checks only when an employee will be working in a job that’s financial in nature. In other cases, it just simply isn’t necessary and is quite simply unfair.”
The bill (A-3238) prohibits an employer from requiring a credit check on a current or prospective employee as a condition of employment, unless the employer is required to do so by law or reasonably believes an employee has engaged in a specific activity that is financial in nature and constitutes a violation of law.
“The bill does not prevent an employer from a credit inquiry or employment action if credit history is a bona fide occupational requirement of a particular position or employment classification,” said Tucker (D-Essex). “Otherwise, requiring such checks may actually be impairing someone’s ability to recover financially by starting a new job.”
Credit checks would be allowed for:
· A managerial position which involves setting the financial direction or control of the business;
· A position which involves access to customers’, employees’, or employers’ personal belongings or financial information, other than information customarily provided in a retail transaction;
· A position which involves a fiduciary responsibility to the employer, including, but not limited to, the authority to issue payments, transfer money or enter into contracts or involves leases of real property;
· A position which provides an expense account for travel; or
· A law enforcement officer for a law enforcement agency in this state.
The bill prohibits an employer from requiring a prospective employee to waive or limit any protection granted under the bill as a condition of applying for or receiving an offer of employment.
The bill also prohibits retaliation or discrimination against an individual because the individual has done or was about to do any of the following:
· file a complaint pursuant to provisions of the bill;
· testify, assist, or participate in an investigation, proceeding, or action concerning a violation of the bill; or
· otherwise oppose a violation of the bill.
Any current, prospective, or former employee aggrieved under the provisions of the bill may bring an action in a court of competent jurisdiction for appropriate injunctive relief and damages, including reasonable attorneys’ fees and court costs.
In addition, the bill provides for the imposition of civil penalties in an amount not to exceed $5,000 for the first violation, and $10,000 for each subsequent violation, collectible by the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development.
“Let’s face it – in most cases credit checks are unnecessary and say nothing about whether a potential employee is fit for the job,” Ramos said.
The bill was recently released by the Assembly Labor Committee.