11 U.S. Code § 525. Protection against discriminatory treatment
This section is additional debtor protection. It codifies the result of Perez v. Campbell, 402 U.S. 637 (1971), which held that a State would frustrate the Congressional policy of a fresh start for a debtor if it were permitted to refuse to renew a drivers license because a tort judgment resulting from an automobile accident had been unpaid as a result of a discharge in bankruptcy.
Notwithstanding any other laws, section 525 prohibits a governmental unit from denying, revoking, suspending, or refusing to renew a license, permit, charter, franchise, or other similar grant to, from conditioning such a grant to, from discrimination with respect to such a grant against, deny employment to, terminate the employment of, or discriminate with respect to employment against, a person that is or has been a debtor or that is or has been associated with a debtor. The prohibition extends only to discrimination or other action based solely on the basis of the bankruptcy, on the basis of insolvency before or during bankruptcy prior to a determination of discharge, or on the basis of nonpayment of a debt discharged in the bankruptcy case (the Perez situation). It does not prohibit consideration of other factors, such as future financial responsibility or ability, and does not prohibit imposition of requirements such as net capital rules, if applied nondiscriminatorily.
In addition, the section is not exhaustive. The enumeration of various forms of discrimination against former bankrupts is not intended to permit other forms of discrimination. The courts have been developing the Perez rule. This section permits further development to prohibit actions by governmental or quasi-governmental organizations that perform licensing functions, such as a State bar association or a medical society, or by other organizations that can seriously affect the debtors’ livelihood or fresh start, such as exclusion from a union on the basis of discharge of a debt to the union’s credit union.
The effect of the section, and of further interpretations of the Perez rule, is to strengthen the anti-reaffirmation policy found in section 524(b). Discrimination based solely on nonpayment could encourage reaffirmations, contrary to the expressed policy.
The section is not so broad as a comparable section proposed by the Bankruptcy Commission, S. 236, 94th Cong., 1st Sess. § 4–508 (1975), which would have extended the prohibition to any discrimination, even by private parties. Nevertheless, it is not limiting either, as noted. The courts will continue to mark the contours of the anti-discrimination provision in pursuit of sound bankruptcy policy.
The Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act, 1930, referred to in subsec. (a), is act June 10, 1930, ch. 436, 46 Stat. 531, which is classified generally to chapter 20A (§ 499a et seq.) of Title 7, Agriculture. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see section 499a(a) of Title 7 and Tables.
The Packers and Stockyards Act, 1921, referred to in subsec. (a), is act Aug. 15, 1921, ch. 64, 42 Stat. 159, which is classified generally to chapter 9 (§ 181 et seq.) of Title 7. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see section 181 of Title 7 and Tables.
Section 1 of the Act entitled “An Act making appropriations for the Department of Agriculture for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1944, and for other purposes,” approved July 12, 1943, referred to in subsec. (a), is classified to section 204 of Title 7.
The Higher Education Act of 1965, referred to in subsec. (c)(2), is Pub. L. 89–329, Nov. 8, 1965, 79 Stat. 1219. Title IV of the Act is classified generally to subchapter IV (§ 1070 et seq.) of chapter 28 of Title 20, Education. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see Short Title note set out under section 1001 of Title 20 and Tables.
2005—Subsec. (c)(1). Pub. L. 109–8, § 1211(1), inserted “student” before “grant, loan,”.
Subsec. (c)(2). Pub. L. 109–8, § 1211(2), substituted “any program operated under” for “the program operated under part B, D, or E of”.
Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 103–394, § 313, added subsec. (c).
1984—Pub. L. 98–353 designated existing provisions as subsec. (a), inserted “the” before “Perishable”, and added subsec. (b).
Amendment by Pub. L. 109–8 effective 180 days after Apr. 20, 2005, and not applicable with respect to cases commenced under this title before such effective date, except as otherwise provided, see section 1501 of Pub. L. 109–8, set out as a note under section 101 of this title.
Amendment by Pub. L. 103–394 effective Oct. 22, 1994, and not applicable with respect to cases commenced under this title before Oct. 22, 1994, see section 702 of Pub. L. 103–394, set out as a note under section 101 of this title.