For Immediate Release: September 10, 2014

NEW YORK, NY — The Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council is rallying around a ban on personal credit checks by all employers, employment agencies and licensing agencies. Caucus members have unanimously co-sponsored Intro. 216 in an effort to end this discriminatory practice that bars qualified applicants from economic opportunities.

We look forward to advocating for the Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment Act (Intro. 216) during the Council’s Committee on Civil Rights hearing September 12th, 2014 and in the near future.

“A person’s character and work performance is not reflected in their credit history. If my own credit report had been taken into account I would not have had the opportunities I have been afforded in civil service,” said Co-Chair, Council Member Antonio Reynoso. “I am grateful to have been evaluated on more substantial measures like experience and leadership in my community. All potential employees deserve this benefit.”

“Credit history is no indication of a person’s ability to work,” said Co-Chair, Council Member Donovan Richards. “Ending employer led credit checks of applicants will aid millions of people seeking to access employment and stem the harm done by credit based prejudice. As a co-sponsor of this bill, I am proud to fight to eliminate the discriminatory use of credit checks by employers.”

“Employers should not deny people jobs based on their credit history,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “Whether from catastrophic medical expenses, death of a spouse, or predatory lending, many New Yorkers have poor credit through little or no fault of their own.  Recent graduates with spiraling student debt need an equal chance to get a job, if they are ever going to pay it off.  This is a pervasive, deeply discriminatory practice and this bill is a simple, effective step forward for fairness and for common sense.”

Said Councilwoman Debi Rose (49th District/SI): “The practice of using credit checks as part of the employment application process is pernicious – it often prevents people from disadvantaged backgrounds, who are more likely to have a bad credit rating, from getting a job, and it impacts college and professional school graduates who are coming out of school with unprecedented debt levels, as well as people with medical debt. The bottom line is that this practice is keeping people who want to work and who can work from working, for no justifiable reason.”

“A loaf of bread for ones family or paying a bill to keep ones credit score intact to one day get a better paying job is an unfair choice faced by many New Yorkers without protection from unnecessary employment credit checks,” said Vice-Chair for Policy, Council Member Ben Kallos an attorney. “Discrimination in hiring must end, especially when it is based on arbitrary numbers from credit reporting bureaus that rarely agree and refuse to provide transparency around how they assign that number, leaving millions of Americans without a fair process.  No arbitrary number like a credit score should rob anyone of their opportunity to pursue their dreams.”

“Credit reports are riddled with errors, and credit agencies themselves admit they rarely predict a person’s job performance,” said Vice- Chair for Budget Advocacy, Council Member Helen Rosenthal. “Let’s get rid of this antiquated practice and give all job seekers a fair chance.”

“Employment credit checks prevent too many qualified, hardworking New Yorkers from getting the jobs they so desperately need,” said Treasurer, Council Member Margaret Chin. “That’s why we need to act now to remove this unfair and discriminatory practice from the hiring and firing process. New Yorkers know that when adversity strikes and a person’s credit is damaged — through situations like medical debt or a previous job layoff — that should never stop them from being able to secure a new job and get back on their feet. That fundamental fairness and equality of opportunity is what we’re fighting for with this legislation.”

“Your credit score is not a good measure of whether you are qualified for a job or not,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm. “On September 12, the City Council Civil Rights Committee will hear legislation that prohibits the use of credit checks during the hiring process. This is an issue that affects many of my constituents and I am proud to be a sponsor of a strong bill that doesn’t allow any loopholes. Using credit scores to determine job eligibility is arbitrary and a form of discrimination. Your personal finances are not your employer’s business.”

“For far too long, many New Yorkers have lost or been denied jobs because of the unfair and inaccurate practice of employment credit screenings,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras. “As Chair of the Committee on Finance, I proudly support the Stop Credit Discrimination Act because it will help more people to have access to jobs and an income, which is the cornerstone of our tax base.  At a time when unemployment is still a problem in this City, we need to change the draconian policy of credit screening employees and focus on getting people back to work.”

“I join the Progressive Caucus in speaking in a single voice in support of the Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment Act which would prohibit discrimination based on one’s consumer credit history,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “No correlation exists between an individual’s credit score and their job performance and the continued use of this practice which bars qualified applicants from accessing economic opportunities and achieving financial stability. Int. 216 would put an end to this discriminatory screening indicator and I am proud to be a cosponsor.”

“Credit history screenings for employment are unfair, unnecessary, and have no place in New York City. A person’s credit history should in no way determine whether they are suitable for employment and with this legislation we have an opportunity to make them a thing of the past. I am proud to join this coalition in pursuit of fairness for all New Yorkers,” said Council Member Stephen Levin.

Council Member Mark Levine said: “Working-class New Yorkers should be hired based on whether they can do the job, not because a frequently mistake-ridden report says whether or not they pay their bills on time. An unforeseen illness or a layoff due to changing economics too often wreak havoc on a reliable employee’s credit history. Required credit checks unfairly punish these individuals when we should instead be trying to help them back into the labor force. We must unequivocally ban this harmful practice and not allow any loopholes to be added before it passes.”

“I am proud to support this sound piece of legislation that would ban the use of an employee’s credit standing as a discriminatory tool. In a competitive job market such as ours, we must ensure that every applicant is thoroughly considered for employment based on their credentials, and their potential contributions, and not on a perceived—and often misguided—assumption of financial irresponsibility. I commend my colleagues for addressing this pressing question of discrimination, and congratulate the advocates who worked on moving this protection toward legislative action. I look forward to New York City’s action against all forms of discrimination against any group of people,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca.

“The practice of running a credit check on job applicants disproportionally affects our community in Southeast Queens. There has been no tangible evidence to prove that those with poor credit are inferior employees. Yet credit checks only serve to punish motivated job seekers and persecute them for their private finances,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller. “Rather than accept this discrimination, which occurs primarily in communities of color, we should work to ensure that all those in the workforce and those looking to make their way into the workforce have an equal opportunity in the hiring process.”

“Right now great quality workers applying for much needed jobs are being turned away because of credit reports that might not even be accurate. I’m here today to tell members of my community about this injustice and have them join me in advocating for the end of this practice that disproportionately effects people of color,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez.

“Credit scores have no bearing on job performance, disparately impact communities of color, and create needless barriers to employment for otherwise qualified candidates.  I fully support the Stop Credit in Employment Discrimination Act and will work with my colleagues to champion its advancement through the City Council.” Said Bronx Council Member Ritchie Torres. “Employers and job seekers will both benefit from the elimination of this discriminatory and oftentimes inaccurate practice.”

“A person’s value and their capacity to be hired and do a job well should not be judged by their credit history,” said New York City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “Int. 261 will ensure that those who are seeking employment will receive the fair consideration that they deserve.”

“It’s time New York City gives all job applicants an equal shot at employment, which is why we must ban the use of consumer credit checks from the hiring process,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, Deputy Leader and Chair of the Council’s Housing and Buildings Committee. “Having poor credit history should not prevent someone from being able to put food on the table or pay their rent. It is time we end this discriminatory practice to ensure all New Yorkers can receive gainful employment despite their credit score, which often has nothing to do with a person’s work ethic. I applaud Council Member Brad Lander for his leadership on this initiative and proudly support this bill.”

The Progressive Caucus is committed to economic policy that nurtures a diverse workforce and provides affirmative opportunities to advance New Yorkers.

Founded in 2010, the Caucus is dedicated to establishing a more just and equal New York City, combating all forms of discrimination, and advancing public policies that offer genuine opportunity to all New Yorkers, especially those who have been left out of our society’s prosperity.

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