Council also passed resolutions honoring the state General Assembly’s first female Minority Leader and declared all Fridays in December 2020 as “Shop Black Business Friday.”
PHILADELPHIA, December 10, 2020 – City Council unanimously voted today to pass a pair of bills aimed at limiting the use of credit checks as a barrier to City residents applying for jobs with law enforcement agencies and financial institutions and those seeking promotion in those respective fields.
The bills, Nos. 200413 and 200614, were introduced by Councilwoman Cherelle L. Parker (9th District).
Bill 200413 improves upon existing legislation introduced by Council President Darrell Clarke and passed in 2016 that prohibits employers from obtaining or using credit-related information of employees and job applicants. At the time, the 2016 legislation exempted law enforcement agencies and financial institutions because state and federal law preempted the use of credit history checks for police officers and certain jobs within financial institutions.
Under Bill 200413, the Police Department will now be liable for unlawful discrimination under the Fair Practices Ordinance in obtaining or using the credit history of an applicant or employee in a non-police officer position in connection with any employment determination. Companion Bill 200614 establishes that when any employer uses a credit check to make an adverse action based in whole or in part on the information in that report, the employer must provide the applicant or employee with a written copy of the information they relied upon, and give them the right to dispute the information before the employer takes an adverse action.
“Using credit reports for employment practices has a disparate impact on the African American and Latino communities,” said Rue Landau, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations. “Individuals in these communities are more likely to have poor credit histories due to historic racial and economic injustices such as predatory and discriminatory practices in lending and housing.”
An NBC10 investigation this past summer found that nearly 70 percent of Police applicants are people of color. Yet in the last year, just 29 percent of Academy recruits were people of color. Last January, the Philadelphia Police Department’s training academy class included no Black cadets. The NBC10 report included, among other things, “bad credit” as a disqualifier.
Because PA law does not explicitly state what a police department must do with the credit information, Parker hopes the Philadelphia Police Department will adopt a new internal policy and not consider credit reports unless they uncover financial fraud.
“If a credit check uncovers a history of financial fraud, then yes, that information can be used in a meaningful way to deny someone a job or a promotion,” Parker said. “But if it just uncovers that someone has a low credit score because they went through a rough patch, then I don’t see why that information should be used to deny someone a job.”
Council also unanimously adopted two resolutions introduced by Parker today.
One honors State Representative Joanna McClinton (191st Legislative District) for being the first Pennsylvania woman of any race or ethnicity elected to serve as Minority Leader in the General Assembly. McClinton has served in the General Assembly since winning a special election on August 25, 2015.
Another resolution declaring each Friday in December of 2020 as “Shop Black Business Friday” in the City of Philadelphia also passed.
“As someone who served in the General Assembly, I am so proud to see Representative McClinton break through the glass ceiling,” Parker said. “And Black- and Brown-owned businesses contribute greatly to the fabric of our city, despite long-existing barriers towards entrepreneurs of color in opening, operating, and growing their businesses.”