New York City’s Human Rights Law has long protected against discrimination based on:
- National origin
- Citizenship status
- Sexual orientation
- Marital status
- Partnership status
- Any lawful source of income
- Status as a victim of domestic violence
- Status as a victim of sex offenses or stalking
- Lawful occupation
- Family status
- Conviction or arrest record
In January 2013, the New York City Council passed the nation’s first law protecting unemployed people against hiring discrimination. The Council’s bill makes it illegal under the Human Rights Law for an employer to base a hiring decision on an applicant’s unemployment without a substantially job-related reason for making that decision. The law also makes it illegal for employers to post job advertisements requiring current employment as a prerequisite, or stating that unemployed applicants will not be considered for employment.
The bill passed the Council with a landslide 44-4 vote. The Council’s strong support stems from a growing perception — backed by research by the National Employment Law Project — that employers are increasingly refusing to consider job applicants who are not already currently employed, making the struggle to find work even more difficult for the many New Yorkers struggling with long-term unemployment in the wake of the recent recession.
Unfortunately, Mayor Michael Bloomberg waited as long as legally possible before acting on the bill and vetoed it toward the end of February 2013. The Council — which needs 34 votes to overcome a veto — has vowed to override the veto. Employment law attorneys in New York City, only too aware of how the cost of unmitigated employment discrimination increases when work becomes harder to find, applaud the Council’s resolve.