District of Columbia: New Law Prohibits Employers from Using Credit Information in Employment Decisions

On February 15, 2017, the “Fair Credit in Employment Amendment Act” went into effect. The new law bars Washington DC employers from using or obtaining a job applicant’s or employee’s credit information for employment purposes.

The Act amends the Washington DC Human Rights Act and makes it unlawful for an employer to ask an employee to submit or to inquire into an employee’s credit information. With the new law, credit information is defined as an employee’s creditworthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, or credit history.

There are several exceptions to this amendment that apply to private employers:

  • Where an employer is otherwise required by Washington DC law to (a) ask an employee to submit credit information, or (b) inquire into an employee’s credit information;
  • Applications for certain police officer positions;
  • A position that requires possession of a security clearance under District law;
  • Disclosures by District government employees of their credit information to the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability or the Office of the Inspector General, or the use of such disclosures by those agencies;
  • Where the position will involve access to personal financial information, such as financial institutions; and
  • Where an employer requests or receives credit information pursuant to a lawful subpoena, court order, or law enforcement investigation.

If an organization is found in violation of this new law, they could be fined starting at $1,000 for a first offense up to $5,000 for multiple offenses.