Q: You are currently interviewing potential applicants for your company’s bookkeeper position.  Can you lawfully run the applicant’s credit history before making a hiring decision?

 A: The answer is different depending upon whether your company is in NYC or NJ.  As of September 2, 2015, it is unlawful for NYC employers with four or more employees to consider an individual’s consumer credit history in making employment decisions. The Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment Act (the “Act”) prohibits such employers from requesting or considering an applicant’s credit history, subject to limited exceptions.  Employers may consider an applicant’s credit history for

-        Positions in which an employee is required by law to be bonded.

-        Positions in which an employee is required by law to possess security clearance.

-        Non-clerical positions having regular access to trade secrets, intelligence information or national security information.

-        Positions i) having signatory authority over third party funds or assets valued at $10,000 or more, or ii) that involve a fiduciary responsibility to the employer with the authority to enter financial agreements valued at $10,000 or more on behalf of the employer; and

-        Positions with regular duties that allow the employee to modify digital security systems established to prevent the unauthorized use of the employer’s or client’s networks or databases.

The Act does not exempt all individuals who are required to handle money in the course of their job duties.

 New Jersey does not yet have a similar law.

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