Thoughts on NYC's ban on credit checks for employment purposes

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Jun 3, 2015

In case you haven’t heard, New York City has, with some notable exceptions, banned the use of credit reports for employment screening purposes. The ban goes into effect in less than two months, but will it really accomplish anything?

According to SHRM, only 13% of employers run credit checks on all job applicants. Many of those employers (1) are in industries where a pre-employment credit check is defensible, e.g. financial services or industries where employees have ready access to cash or consumers’ confidential information and (2) are exempted from the new law.

Moreover, how many employers actually pay for a credit check on job applicants seeking positions stocking shelves, washing dishes, providing maid/janitorial services or the like? Those statistics aren’t readily available. But the impact of credit checks on job-seekers’ employment prospects surely pales in comparison to the impact of criminal background checks.

Any serious effort to reform the hiring process must address criminal background checks. Anything less is just window dressing.

- Craig E. Bertschi, Partner — McRae Bertschi LLC