N.J. eyes banning credit checks for job applicants

 Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter (D-Patterson) (Phil Gregory/for NewsWorks)

Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter (D-Patterson) (Phil Gregory/for NewsWorks)

New Jersey is close to banning companies from requiring a credit check as a condition of employment for most job applicants.

Under a bill awaiting a final vote in the New Jersey Assembly, credit checks would be allowed only for applicants for a law enforcement jobs or when a good financial history is an occupational requirement for a particular position.

Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter (D-Patterson) says for other jobs, a credit score should not determine whether a candidate is hired.

“It states nothing of their skill unless they’re going to work in a financial institution,” Sumter said. “Some jobs don’t even require you do to that, some jobs in customer service, some jobs in advocacy, and there are other sectors that a credit score does not determine your ability to get the job done.”

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Sumter says people often see their credit scores drop when they are out of work, so it’s unfair to make it harder for them to find that next job by counting it against them.

Michael Egenton, senior vice president of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, says the legislation could end up subjecting employers to costly litigation.

“Employers historically have used credit checks to see the worthiness of applicants and job candidates.” Egenton said. “We want to see that continue as a mechanism that employers use. We really don’t feel that Trenton should be telling the employer community what they can and can’t do.”

The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce says credit checks help determine the worthiness of job candidates and believes the legislation has the potential to subject employers to costly litigation.

Egenton said if there are errors on credit reports, employers and job seekers can discuss and work through that during the interview process.  

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal