Councilman Antonio Reynoso, co-chair of the Progressive Caucus.  (Photo: William Alatriste/NYC Council)

A bill to ban employers from running personal credit checks on job applicants will get a boost from the City Council’s Progressive Caucus, which intends to make the legislation its next priority for passage.

The bill was introduced in April and has also been considered, but not passed, by previous councils — but the 19-member caucus told the Observer today they were putting their weight behind it ahead of a hearing on the bill this Friday.

“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,” Councilman Antonio Reynoso, a co-chair of the caucus, said in a statement. “I am grateful to have been evaluated on more substantial measures like experience and leadership in my community. All potential employees deserve this benefit.”

Councilman Donovan Richards, his fellow co-chair, agreed, saying a credit history is no indication of an ability to work.

“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,” Mr. Richards said.

Members of the caucus plan to hand out literature and hold a press conference Friday morning before the bill’s hearing in the Civil Rights Committee.

In statements, a slew of other members of the large caucus argued that there’s no correlation between job performance and credit scores, and that even if there were, credit reports are often riddled with errors.

New York City would not be the first locality to ban the use of credit checks in hiring; several states have done so already, and the move is being considered in others. It’s also not the first time New York City has considered banning credit checks in employment — previous legislation introduced in prior councils stalled.

The Progressive Caucus, which doubled in size this year, has played a strong role in the council this session — including in the selection of Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who is a member of the caucus. Her office said she would be reviewing the legislation. The caucus has also backed the expansion of paid sick leave, and been a strong advocate of the growing participatory budgeting trend, in which voters select which projects a council member funds.

The singling out of the credit check bills comes as observers are eyeing what the Council will take on as the summer, when few hearings or meetings are held, comes to an end…



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