On March 26, 2018, the New Jersey Senate passed Bill Number S545, which would prohibit employers from obtaining, requiring or discriminating against current or prospective employees based on credit reports.

Specifically, under the proposed law, no employer shall “seek to obtain or require a current or prospective employee to provide or consent to the creation of a credit report that contains information about the current or prospective employee’s credit history, credit score, credit account balances, payment history, savings or checking account balances, or savings or checking account numbers, unless the employer is required by law to obtain a credit report, or the employer reasonably believes that the employee has engaged in a specific activity that is financial in nature and constitutes a violation of the law.”  In addition, under the proposed law, no employer shall “discharge, demote, suspend, retaliate, refuse to hire, or otherwise discriminate against a current or prospective employee with regard to promotion, compensation, or the terms, conditions or privileges of employment, based on information in a credit report on the employee.”

However, an employer may make a credit inquiry if credit history is an established bona fide occupational qualification of a particular position or employment classification.  Under the proposed law, credit history shall be considered a bona fide occupational qualification for a position that (1) is a managerial position which involves setting the financial direction or control of the business; (2) involves access to the personal belongings, financial assets or financial information (other than information that is customarily provided in a retail transaction) of customers, employees or employers; (3) involves a fiduciary responsibility to the employer, including but not limited to, the authority to issue payments, transfer money or enter into contracts or involves leases of real property; (4) provides an expense account for travel; or (5) is as a law enforcement officer for a law enforcement agency in the State of New Jersey, or is as governmental or non-governmental security personnel.

Significantly, the proposed law prohibits retaliation or discrimination against an individual because the individual has done or is about to do any of the following: (1) files a complaint under the law; (2) testifies, assists, or participates in an investigation, proceeding, or action concerning a violation of the law; or (3) otherwise opposes a violation under the law.  Lastly, under the proposed law, “an employer shall not require an individual to waive or limit any protection under [the act] as a condition of applying for or receiving an offer of employment.” The proposed bill is currently under consideration by the New Jersey General Assembly.