In a world where people freely confess their celebrity crushes, post pictures of their breakfast online for the world to see, rant at length about the slightest annoyance, and make their digestive systems a subject of conversation, debt remains a taboo subject. The consensus is that your financial struggles are no one’s business but yours, and it is ruder to ask about someone’s income than it is about their age, weight, or relationship status. These days, almost everyone is in debt, but no one likes to talk about it. Most of us do not like to think about our credit score and have to summon the courage before we ask about it when preparing to apply for a loan. Likewise, privacy laws restrict who can access your credit score, much as they restrict who can access information about your health history or other sensitive information. In most cases, prospective employers in New York City do not have the right to request a credit report and use it as a factor in their decision about whether to hire you. To find out more about your privacy rights as an employee or job candidate regarding your financial history, contact the New York City Fair Credit Reporting Act lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP.
How Your Credit Score Affects Background Checks in New York City
Before you enter into a long-term agreement where large amounts of money are at stake, you should make sure you can trust the other party to fulfill their commitments. Therefore, before banks agree to lend money for mortgages and other kinds of loans or before landlords agree to lease apartments, they ask for evidence that the borrower or prospective tenant will be able to repay the loan or keep up with rent payments. They have the right to access your credit report to verify the statements you have made and the documents you have provided.
Your credit report contains records of all the money you have borrowed, the money you owe, and the payments you have made. It also shows defaults on debts, renegotiation of the terms of loans, and bankruptcy filings. Credit reporting agencies are only allowed to display debts that you have incurred within the past seven years. Bankruptcy filings can stay on your credit report for up to ten years. Your credit score changes frequently, as you charge more purchases on credit cards, incur more bills, and make payments toward your debts. Consumers have the right to dispute inaccurate items on their credit reports, and if you notify a credit reporting agency of an error on your credit report, the credit reporting agencies must correct it promptly.
Pre-Employment Background Checks in New York
Criminal background checks are a routine part of pre-employment screening, and New York offers more protection to job seekers than most other states, with regard to how much information prospective employers can find out about your previous encounters with law enforcement and the criminal justice system. New York Consolidated Laws, Article 25, Section 380-j severely restricts the information that employers can access regarding the criminal history of job candidates for positions where the employer does not expect to pay the prospective employee more than $25,000; this includes many temporary, seasonal, and part-time positions. For these jobs, the employer can only access information about criminal convictions for which the job candidate completed their sentence within the past seven years. This means that, if you pled guilty to marijuana possession in the early 2000s and have long since completed your probation, the prospective employer cannot see the record. Likewise, employers for jobs that pay less than $25,000 cannot access records of any arrests that did not result in a conviction.
Can Your Employer Check Your Credit Score in NYC?
Most places in the United States enable your employer to access your credit report, but in New York City, the answer to whether your employer can check your credit score is usually no. The reasoning is that, if you have a low credit score, the danger is too great that the employer will unfairly use your credit score against you. Perhaps the employer will assume that you cannot be trusted to make wise decisions about money and assume that your debt problems are the result of preventable financial mistakes on your part. The employer might even cynically assume that, if your credit to debt ratio is skewed toward debt, you will have a motive to steal money from your employer. Of course, denying someone a job because they are struggling financially is as unfair as denying someone medical care because they are sick. New York City is one of only a few jurisdictions in the United States to protect workers from this kind of injustice.
The only exceptions to this rule are applicants for law enforcement jobs or executive-level jobs where the applicant will be responsible for computer security, trade secrets, or large amounts of money. The fact that you will handle money at your job does not give your employer the right to check your credit score. Cashiers and bank tellers are not subject to pre-employment credit checks, and neither are security guards employed by private companies.
What to Do if Your Employer Illegally Accesses Your Credit Score in New York City
Refusal to hire a job candidate because of their credit history or credit score, except in the case of law enforcement and executive-level jobs, is a form of employment discrimination. You may have grounds for an employment discrimination lawsuit if a prospective employer checked your credit score or arrest records if they were not supposed to. An employment discrimination lawyer can answer your questions about discrimination based on financial history.
Contact HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP About Credit History Discrimination in New York City
The employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP can help you if an employer refused to hire you based on events in your past that they did not have the right to find out about and could not have known about simply by Googling your name. Contact the employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP in New York, New York to set up a consultation.