Can it be? No More Credit Checks for Job Applicants?

Possibly.  In light of the unemployment rate in New Jersey, the Legislature has proposed a bill to ban credit checks on job applicants and current employees in the hopes that New Jersey residents who are out of work and face increasing bills affecting their credit ratings will not be discriminated against in their search for employment.  This bill is currently pending before the Legislature and if enacted as currently drafted would ban employers from requiring credit checks for both employees and applicants.  Specifically, the proposed bill would prohibit employers from seeking to obtain or require either a current or prospective employee to provide or consent to the creation of a credit report containing the employee’s credit score, credit account balances, payment history, savings or checking account balances, or savings or checking account numbers as a condition of employment.  Further, the bill specifically provides that any attempted waiver or an attempt to limit any protections under the bill are void and unenforceable as contrary to public policy.

The bill does provide certain exceptions.  Some exceptions are: (1) when the credit check is otherwise required by law; (2) when the employer reasonably believes that the employee or applicant  has engaged in specific activity that is financial in nature and constitutes a violation of the law; or (3) if credit history is a bona fide occupational requirement of a particular position or employment classification.

To deter employers from violating the credit check ban, the bill proposes the imposition of civil penalties in the amount not to exceed $5,000 for a first violation and $10,000 for each subsequent violation.

For further information or advice on this topic, please contact Kristina E. Chubenko, Esq., kchubenko@nullgenovaburns.com, in the Labor Law Practice Group.