Employee Credit Information Protection Act
By: Angel Berberena, Esq.
October 10, 2019
On October 8, 2019, the Governor of Puerto Rico signed the Employee Credit Information Protection Act (“Act 150”). Act 150 aims to curtail the alleged practice by employers to require credit information from employees and employment candidates as a condition of employment. According to the statute, this practice limits the access young professionals and average citizens have to an already limited employment market.
Act 150 provides that employers will not be able to: 1) terminate, deny benefits or compensation, refuse to hire, retaliate, or discriminate against an employee or candidate because of their credit report or credit history; 2) verify or investigate the credit report or credit history of an employee or candidate; or 3) request or obtain credit reports for employees or candidates from a credit agency.
The above restrictions are not extensive to managers; employees of the Department of Justice; state security agents; employees of the judicial branch; positions regulated by the Commissioner of Financial Institutions or as required by federal agencies, laws or regulations; positions with access to financial or personal information of other people (not simply information related to purchases); positions that require financial or fiduciary duty (i.e. issuing payments, performing collections, money transfers or entering in contractual agreements); positions that have access to commercial secrets as per Act No. 80-2011; and positions with access to cash or other valuables in excess of $10,000 that may be stolen.
Prior to requesting a permissible credit report or credit history, employers must get written consent from the employee or candidate. Any consent contrary to the provisions of Act 150 will be considered null and void. Although Act 150 does not create a new independent cause of action for employees or candidates, the Department of Labor may impose fines of $1,000 for a first violation and $2,500 for each additional one.
Act 150 must be interpreted and applied in conjunction with the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act which, among other things, shapes the way employers can ask for, receive, and use credit and background information from third parties. This includes written communications and consent, pre-adverse action disclosure, information on the consumer reporting agency or third party, and information on the employee’s right to dispute the report or investigation. In addition, under no circumstance can an employer make a decision based on race, national origin, sex, religion, disability, genetic information, or any other protected category.
Goldman Antonetti & Cordóva, LLC stands ready to assist you and your business to adjust to Puerto Rico’s regulatory and legal changes. If you need further assistance in this area, please contact any of the following members of our firm:
|Luis Ortiz Abreu
|Jorge Rodíguez Micheo
Although the information included in this document may concern legal issues, it is not a legal opinion or professional advice and clients shall not use it as such. We assume no responsibility or liability of any kind for any information contained herein, and we expressly disclaim all liability for any claim for damages arising from the use, reference to, or reliance on, such information. If legal or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought.