Employment Discrimination and Bankruptcy

March 5, 2010

Most bankruptcy clients worry about how a bankruptcy might disrupt their lives. While many of these fears are unfounded, it is important for you to know the truth about the bankruptcy process and how it may affect you after your case. One serious matter is how a bankruptcy may affect an individual’s employment.

The first concern is how a bankruptcy can affect your current job. An employer will not receive notice of your bankruptcy except under two circumstances. First, you owe a debt to your employer, the bankruptcy court will notify your employer. Second, if you file a chapter 13 debt repayment bankruptcy, and choose a voluntary wage garnishment to pay creditors, your employer will be notified. 

Additionally, section 525 of the Bankruptcy Code prohibits a government or private employer from terminating or discriminating against an employee who files bankruptcy. You cannot be fired from your current job because you filed bankruptcy.

A second concern is how a bankruptcy may affect your ability to get a job. Government employers are absolutely prohibited from denying employment to a person solely on the basis of a bankruptcy filing. As for private employers, most courts have found that the bankruptcy code does not prohibit a private employer from denying a person employment because of a bankruptcy filing.

Refusing to hire a person solely because of a bankruptcy filing seems like a very short-sighted and naïve policy. Consider that the U.S. Census Bureau estimates there are around 308 million people in the United States. From 2000 to 2009, there were over 13 million non-business bankruptcy filings (source: American Bankruptcy Institute). That is over four bankruptcy filings per one hundred people. That figure rises substantially once you take into account that the census includes many that are not in the “working” population, and that many of the non-business bankruptcy filings were joint husband and wife filings. Add to the fact that there are many legitimate and blameless reasons for filing bankruptcy, and it is no wonder that most employers do not discriminate based upon a bankruptcy filing.

If you are experiencing financial difficulty, consult with a bankruptcy attorney and explore your options. Bankruptcy is a federally guaranteed legal process that helps individuals recover from overwhelming financial hardship. Get your financial fresh start today.

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