City Councilors: Employers Shouldn’t Use Credit Checks to Discriminate

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Two Boston City Councilors have proposed an ordinance to prevent employment discrimination based on credit checks. District 4 City Councilor Andrea Campbell and At-Large City Councilor Ayanna Pressley cosponsored the proposed ordinance that will be discussed on Sept. 29 in a public hearing.

The current City of Boston Code protects people from being discriminated based on a host of things: race, sex, gender identity or expression, age, ability, national origin ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, parental status, ex-offender status, prior psychiatric treatment and military status.

But some employers use credit checks as a determining factor to hire a possible employee. The ordinance states, "...individuals burdened with student loans, medical bills, or those who have been involved in the criminal justice system," are being adversely affected while seeking employment.

If the current code is amended the Boston Human Rights Commission would investigate any complaints -- and could only issue a $100 fine for each discriminatory complaint that is found to be valid.

Campbell and Pressley would like to see employers being prohibited from obtaining or using credit-related info in assessing job applicants and would not be allowed to ask applicants to provide credit-related info. The code would also state that an employee couldn't be promoted, disciplined or fired based on credit-related info.

But the code would only apply to employers with more than six people. And it would also not apply to jobs that involve "significant financial responsibility to the employer" such as making payments, transferring money, or access to business assets or cash valued more than $2,500.

The proposed ordinance amendment will be discussed at a Government Operations Committee hearing at City Hall at 11:30 am. This meeting is public and residents are encouraged to testify.