New York City Council Passes Law Prohibiting Discrimination Against Unemployed, Overriding Mayor’s Veto

On March 13, 2013, the New York City Council voted to override Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s veto of Bill Number 814-A, which prohibits employers from discriminating against job applicants on the basis of employment status. Although other jurisdictions, including New Jersey, Oregon and Washington D.C., have enacted similar legislation, New York City’s new law, which permits an applicant to sue an employer directly for damages, is the most far-reaching of this kind of legislation enacted to date.

In the wake of the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression and news of persistently high unemployment, reports of widespread bias on the part of employers and recruitment agencies against hiring the unemployed have garnered national attention. Researchers at the UCLA Anderson School of Management documented the phenomenon in a recent study entitled “The Stigma of Unemployment: When Joblessness Leads to Being Jobless.” In July of 2011, the National Employment Law Project (NELP) also reported on the prevalence of job postings that expressly limit consideration to the “currently employed.” These practices have been widely criticized by opponents for deepening the hardships faced by those struggling to return to the workforce and exacerbating the crisis levels of long-term unemployment that Americans across the county continue to face.

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