2017 Washington D.C. Credit Report Restrictions

May 9, 2017 Accurate Background

Washington, DC amends Human Rights Act of 1977 with Restrictions on Credit Reports

Washington DC Bill 21-0244 amends the city’s existing “Human Rights Act of 1977 by signing the “Fair Credit in Employment Amendment Act of 2016 making it a discriminatory practice to use an applicant’s or employee’s credit information for general employment decisions.  This bill is the latest among a growing list of jurisdictions that have enacted such laws.

The Basics

  • Location:  Washington, DC
  • Legislation:B21-0244,Act 21-0673
  • Type: Credit History
  • Effective: March 17, 2017

Key Takeaways

  • The law applies to any business or person who is subject to the District of Columbia Human Rights Act of 1977
  • Employers must not inquire about or consider an applicant or employee’s credit history in employment decisions unless otherwise permitted in the Ordinance.
  • The law establishes civil penalties to be awarded to any complainant who is found to have been unlawfully discriminated against based on credit history information

Who does this effect?

The restriction applies to all employers that employer one or more employees in in the District of Columbia  

What is prohibited in the law?

Employers, employment agencies, and labor organizations are prohibited from directly or indirectly requiring, requesting, suggesting, or causing a current or prospective employee to submit credit information.  It is illegal for these same employers to accept or inquire about credit information from a current or potential employee, and they are not allowed to take discriminatory employment action based on credit information.

Are there any exceptions?

Yes. Certain positions and employers fall under the specified exemptions, many of which relate to financial institutions, law enforcement agencies, and any employer that is required by state or federal law to obtain credit information on employees or prospective employees.   The amendment specifies the following job situations that may be exempt from following the restrictions:

  • Whenever an employer is mandated by District law to require, request, suggest or cause employees to submit credit information;
  • For any position with a law enforcement function within the District;
  • For the position of the Chief Financial Officer of the District of Columbia;
  • Whenever a position requires a security clearance under District law;
  • For District government employees who are required to disclose their credit information to the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability or the Office of Inspector General;
  • Financial institution jobs requiring access to consumer personal financial information

Can an employer take adverse action based on a credit report?

Yes, adverse action based on a credit report can be taken by an employer that meets the requirements as listed under the aforementioned exceptions.


We recommend you review your organization’s policies and procedures with your legal counsel to ensure compliance with the changing laws. Please note:  The information provided above is strictly for educational purposes.  It is not intended to be legal advice, either expressed or implied.  Accurate Background recommends that you consult with your legal counsel regarding all employment regulations.

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