Pittsburgh, PA asked in Bankruptcy for Pennsylvania

Q: Is a prospective employer allowed to ask about whether you've filed for bankruptcy in an employment application?

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1 Lawyer Answer
W. J. Winterstein Jr.
W. J. Winterstein Jr.
  • Bankruptcy Lawyer
  • Boyertown, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: I had this issue recently with an engineer, for whom I had filed a Ch. 13, and while his case was pending, he was recruited by another company for more money than he was making in his current job. The new company seemed to love him, after interviews; but just before making him an offer, they asked for his ssn to do a credit check. When the bankruptcy filing showed up, the prospective new employer turned away. They explained that the opening had been filled by an engineer who was having financial difficulties, and he had repeatedly asked his employer for advances of salary, and the employer didn't want to deal with that again. It was the Treasurer of the new company who black-balled the job opportunity, arguing that the job partially involved corporate financial access and issues, and a bankruptcy might be less trustworthy. There is a specific provision in the Bankruptcy Code prohibiting both the government and private employers from discriminating against an employee for having filed a bankruptcy. The statute applies different rules for private employers. Private employers are prohibited from terminating a bankrupt employee solely because of the bankruptcy filing (that the bankruptcy was a reason for termination, and particularly, the only reason, is very difficult to prove). However, there is no bankruptcy code protection for a bankrupt applying for an opening with a private business. I know of no prohibition in the law or cases against an inquiry in a job application about bankruptcy filings. If the bankruptcy filing occurred more than ten years prior to filling out the new job application, the prior bankruptcy filing should have been deleted from your credit report. You should monitor your credit report with the three largest credit bureaus to have them drop decades-old bankruptcy filings.

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