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NYC prohibits discrimination based on employment status


The New York City Council has passed legislation prohibiting New York City employers from basing job decisions on an applicant's employment status.

In a 44-4 vote on Wednesday, the city council overrode Mayor Michael Bloomberg's February veto of the bill that amends the city's administrative code.

The law defines “unemployed” as “not having a job, being available for work and seeking employment” and applies to employment decisions related to hiring, compensation or terms and conditions of employment, according to the city council.

Employers also are prohibited from stating that being currently employed is a requirement for a vacant position, according to the amended New York City Human Rights Law.

The city's Commission on Human Rights will handle any complaints against employers. If found in violation of the law, the commission could order an employer to end such practices. Further violations of the commission's orders could result in fines up $250,000, among other penalties.

In his February veto message, Mayor Bloomberg called the proposed legislation “misguided.” He also said the bill “merely serves to add litigation and not jobs” and noted his reservations about treating the unemployed as a protected class under the city's law.

The law “responds to a problem,” City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn said during a January hearing.

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

The city joins other jurisdictions that have enacted laws prohibiting discrimination against the unemployed, such as New Jersey, Oregon and the District of Columbia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ website.

The law goes into effect in June.