New York City Bans Discrimination Based Upon Employment Status


On March 13, 2013, the New York City Council expanded the scope of the New York City Human Rights Law’s already-broad anti-discrimination provisions to prohibit discrimination based upon a prospective employee’s employment status.

Commencing in June, employers in New York City with four or more employees will be prohibited from taking any employment action – including those related to hiring and compensation – based upon an applicant’s prior unemployment status. In addition, the bill bans employers from stating or suggesting in job advertisements that current employment is a prerequisite for employment. Simply put, the bill places a job applicant’s employment status on equal footing, at least for purposes of the city’s anti-discrimination law, with the applicant’s race, religion, sex, and other well-established protected characteristics.

Although other jurisdictions, including New Jersey, Oregon, and the District of Columbia, maintain similar laws, the New York City bill goes even further by providing applicants with a private right of action to sue for damages in court and to file a complaint with the New York City Commission on Human Rights. In addition to any in-court recovery, the Commission possesses the authority to impose civil penalties of up to $125,000 for violators, and $250,000 for those employers that are deemed to have committed a willful, wanton, or malicious violation.

So What Does This Mean for New York City Employers?

All employers in New York City should re-evaluate their hiring practices and procedures in the following ways:

  • Remove all direct and indirect references in job advertisements to current employment as a prerequisite for employment.
  • Train those employees responsible for hiring on the new legislation. Although questions concerning an applicant’s employment history may not be per se illegal, such queries must be appropriately phrased and should be pre-screened by counsel.
  • Consider any means by which an applicant’s employment status can be withheld from interviewers and decision-makers, and document any such measures that are undertaken.

If you have any questions about this legislation or other labor and employment issues, please contact the authors of this Alert, or any member of the Reed Smith Labor & Employment team.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Reed Smith | Attorney Advertising

Written by:


Reed Smith on:

Popular Topics
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:

Sign up to create your digest using LinkedIn*

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.

Already signed up? Log in here

*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.