of Columbia has become the newest jurisdiction to prohibit
employers from inquiring into their job applicants' and current
employees' credit information.
Update:The law became
effective on March 17, 2017.
On February 15, 2017, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser signed B21-0244 (now known as A21-0673), "The Fair Credit in Employment
Amendment Act of 2016" (the "Act"), amending the
D.C. Human Rights Act of 1977 to prohibit employers, including
employment agencies and labor organizations, from taking
discriminatory action against prospective and current employees
based on their credit information (defined as "any written,
oral, or other communication of information bearing on an
employee's creditworthiness, credit standing, credit capacity,
or credit history"). Specifically, employers are prohibited
from directly or indirectly requiring, requesting, suggesting, or
causing any employee to submit credit information and from using,
accepting, referring to or inquiring into credit information unless
the particular position is exempt from the law's
Employers are permitted to inquire into an applicant's or
employee's credit history is permitted if the position falls
under one of the following exemptions:
The employer is otherwise required by D.C. law to require,
request, suggest or cause the employee to submit credit
information, or use, accept, refer to or inquire into an
employee's credit information;
The employee is applying for a position as or is employed as a
police officer, as a special police office or campus police
officer, or in a position with law enforcement function;
For employees within the Office of the Chief Financial Officer
The employee is required to possess a security clearance under
For disclosures by D.C. government employees of their credit
information to the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability or
the Office of the Inspector General, or the agencies' use of
For financial institutions, where the position involves access
to personal financial information. Financial institutions are
defined as "a bank, savings institution, credit union, foreign
bank, trust company, non-depository financial institution, or any
other person which is regulated, supervised, examined, or licensed
[or which has applied to be regulated, supervised, examined, or
licensed] by the Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking;
. . . which is subject to the regulation, supervision, examination,
or licensure by the Department of Insurance, Securities, and
Banking; or which is engaged in an activity covered by the D.C.
Banking Code;" or
Where an employer requests or receives credit information
pursuant to lawful subpoena, court order or law enforcement
The D.C. Office of Human Rights will investigate charges of
violations of the Act. An employer who is found to have violated
the law may be subject to fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.
Specifically, employers will face a $1,000 fine for the first
violation, a $2,500 fine for the second violation, and a $5,000 for
each violation thereafter. Most significantly, individuals also
will have a private right of action for violations of the Act, just
as they would for any other unlawful discriminatory employment
practice under the D.C. Human Rights Act.
D.C. employers should review their practices to ensure
compliance with the new requirements, including that their
employment practices do not directly or indirectly request credit
information unless an exemption is met. Employers who seek credit
information for positions that fall into one of the exemptions to
the Act should also review the new requirements for compliance and
additional process guidance. Additionally, employers should review
their applications and other employment-related documents to ensure
that there are no references to the procurement or use of credit
information. Employers in multi-state jurisdictions should ensure
compliance both with this Act and with the laws of other applicable
jurisdictions that regulate employers' use of credit
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