NYC Bans Discrimination Based on Employment Status

The New York City Council has passed a legislation banning New York City employers from basing job decisions on a potential applicant’s employment status.

In a 44-4 vote the city council overrode Mayor Bloomberg’s veto of the bill that altered the city’s administrative code. In his February veto message, Mayor Bloomberg called the proposed legislation “misguided’ and that the bill would “merely serve to add litigation and not jobs.” Bloomberg also noted that his doubts about treating the unemployed as a protected class under the city’s law.

Under the law unemployment is defined as not having a job, but be available for work and seeking employment. The bill would apply to employment decisions related to hiring, compensation or terms and conditions of employment, according to the city council.

Employers are also banned from stating that being currently employed is a requirement for a vacant position.

The city’s Commission on Human Rights will handle any complaints against employers. If any employer is found in violation of the law, they will be ordered to stop such practices but further violations can result in fines up $250,000, among other penalties.

According to City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, the law is responding as a problem.

“Discriminating against people because they are unemployed is wrong, and we’re not going to let it happen anymore in New York,” Quinn said at a January hearing. “We hope this sends a message to employers; interview everybody, consider everyone. There are qualified, terrific people right now who are employed in our five boroughs who want to work, who we need to work, (who) have a lot to contribute.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ website, New York City will be joining other jurisdictions that have enacted laws prohibiting discrimination against the unemployed, such as New Jersey, Oregon and the District of Columbia.

The law goes into effect in June.

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