(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats L. Grace Spencer, Annette Quijano and Wayne DeAngelo to prohibit employers from requiring credit checks as a condition of employment was released Monday by an Assembly panel.
The bill (A-2298/2310) prohibits an employer from requiring a credit check on a current or prospective employee, unless the employer is required to do so by law, or reasonably believes that an employee has engaged in a specific activity that is financial in nature and constitutes a violation of law.
“If someone’s credit rating has nothing to do with the job at hand, then there’s no valid reason to use it as a condition of employment,” said Spencer (D-Essex). “It’s patently unfair and a form of discrimination against many working class residents striving to make ends meet in this difficult economy. It should be banned.”
“In most cases I see no legitimate reason for making a credit check a condition of employment,” said Quijano (D-Union). “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.”
“If credit ratings were required to determine employment, many of us would be out of work. We have all made financial mistakes at some point that we regret. It should not limit our ability to provide for our families,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Unless a credit check is essential to the job in question, applicants should be judged on their ability to do the job, not their credit history.”
The bill does not prevent an employer from performing a credit inquiry or taking an employment action if credit history is a bona fide occupational qualification of a particular position or employment classification, including:
- 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 assets 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, or a governmental or non-governmental security personnel position, including security personnel in a homeland security agency.
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 $2,000 for the first violation, and $5,000 for each subsequent violation, collectible by the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development.
The bill was released by the Assembly Labor Committee