Bloomberg Vetoes Bill Prohibiting Discrimination Against Jobless

On Friday, Mayor Bloomberg vetoed a controversial bill passed by the NYC Council which prohibits employers from advertising that unemployed candidates will not be considered for job openings and from considering a job candidate’s present employment status when making a hiring decision. As previously discussed here, NYC’s bill is not the first of its kind at the state or local level. However, the new NYC law is the first in the country to afford applicants a private cause of action in court for discrimination if they believe they have been discriminated against based on their unemployed status.

Mayor Bloomberg cited several reasons for his decision to veto the bill, including his belief that the creation of an ambiguous legal standard will make it harder for employers to make decisions benefitting their businesses, and his belief that employers, fearing an increased threat of lawsuits, would look internally to hire instead of opening up the application process to the public. Council Speaker Christine Quinn said the Council will override Mayor Bloomberg’s veto and the law will take effect soon.

We will continue to monitor the status of the bill. For more information on the bill and developing and implementing lawful hiring criteria, please contact John R. Vreeland, Esq., jvreeland@nullgenovaburns.com or Douglas J. Klein, Esq., dklein@nullgenovaburns.com in our Labor Law Practice Group.

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.