For HVACR contractors, background checks are often the norm when hiring new employees, especially for residential contractors whose employees spend a significant amount of time in customers’ homes. Drug screening and driving record checks usually accompany the background check. And, in some cases, so do credit history checks.

For contractors in New York City, however, credit checks are no longer an option when determining employment. Hillary Atkins, general counsel and senior vice president of finance and administration for ACCA recently discussed an amendment to the NYC Human Rights Lawthat states it is unlawful for employers with more than four employees to use consumer credit histories when making employment decisions. According to Atkins, employers may not even inquire about or consider a prospective or current employee’s credit history in respect to employment decisions.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the bill May 6. The law will take effect 120 days from the date of signing. There are currently 10 states and two cities — Chicago and Madison, Wisconsin — that restrict the use of credit history in employment decisions. Now is the time for New York City contractors to review and modify their background check procedures and policies to ensure they are in compliance with the law.

Robin Symons, co-managing partner for Gordon & Rees LLP, said the best advice she gives to business owners is to not use blanket background checks. Instead, the background checks should relate to the job and results should be weighed against job functions. Read more about HVAC contractors and background checks here.