“Employee Background Checks: The New Compliance Arena” (NYLJ, March 16) focused on criminal background checks while discussing employer obligations under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act and the 2015 New York City statute, the Fair Chance Act. It is worth noting that employers in the five boroughs also have important obligations under another city law that was enacted around the same time as the Fair Chance Act, the Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment Act (SCDEA).
The SCDEA prohibits employers, with certain exceptions, from using credit reports and credit scores in making employment decisions. Like the Fair Chance Act, its passage was the result of hard work by enlightened City Council sponsors and a broad coalition of community, faith-based, labor, legal services and other organizations.
Under the SCDEA, employers may utilize credit reports where state or federal law independently requires such use, and for certain jobs that include, among others, executive level positions with responsibility for funds over $10,000, positions requiring bonding or security clearance under law, police officers, and high-level municipal positions. Despite these exceptions, the SCDEA is recognized as the best law of its type among the states and cities that have such laws.
As with other categories of employment practices that are proscribed under the city Human Rights Law, the Human Rights Commission has investigatory and prosecutorial authority. Violators are subject to penalties under the city statute.
Robert A. Martin
The writer is associate director of District
Council 37 Municipal Employees Legal Services