As our economy begins to reawaken following a long period of recession, many of the long-term unemployed are attempting to return to the workforce. Unfortunately, in many areas of the country, they are finding the doors shut as businesses pass over them in favor of applicants who are currently employed. While some jurisdictions have outlawed this practice as a form of discrimination, it remains legal throughout most of the country. Fortunately for NYC residents seeking to return to the workforce, our city has taken ambitious steps toward ending this type of discrimination by legally prohibiting employers in the city from discriminating based on current employment status.

These amendments to the New York City Human Rights Law were passed on March 13, 2013, and took effect on June 11, 2013. They apply to employers with four or more employees and employment agencies and prohibit the following types of conduct:

  • Refusing to hire an applicant because of the person’s current unemployment status
  • Hiring an unemployed person at a lesser rate or otherwise offering inferior terms and conditions of employment
  • Disseminating job opening advertisements with current employment as a precondition

The operation of this law can be quite nuanced. After all, a person’s work history and the circumstances of the applicant’s separation from prior employment is unquestionably relevant when evaluating a job applicant. Employers are still permitted to consider these factors, and many may use them to mask what is little more than categorical discrimination against the unemployed. New York City employment discrimination attorneys must be prepared to meet these challenges when helping job seekers who experienced this type of discrimination pursue justice.