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NYC Law OKs Jobless-Discrimination Lawsuits

By Andrew Lu on March 14, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

New York City will soon join the growing list of places where jobless and unemployment discrimination is illegal.

Over a mayoral veto, city lawmakers passed the nation's toughest law prohibiting discrimination against out-of-work job seekers. NYC's jobless-discrimination law is the first to allow applicants to sue employers for damages over a rejection based on their unemployed status, The Associated Press reports.

Unemployed status will join legally protected characteristics like race and sex as factors a prospective employer cannot consider in New York City. So what does this mean for employers?

Employment Status Discrimination

The law prohibits employers from considering a person's employment status in a hiring decision, and from posting job advertisements that require applicants to be currently employed.

The legislation falls under NYC's human rights laws. However, unlike race or sex discrimination (which can never be considered when hiring workers), the law does provide that there are limited circumstances when employment status may be considered. This includes situations where there is a substantial job-related reason for doing so.

For example, in a press release, the City Council said that employment status may be considered in determining "whether an applicant has a current or valid professional license; a certificate, permit or other credential; or a minimum level of education or training."

NYC's new law does not mean employers have to give preferential treatment to unemployed workers. It only means that you have to give them a fair shot at a job.

If you still plan on considering only currently employed applicants under the loophole mentioned above, you may want to talk to an employment attorney to learn if this is a viable option.

Besides New York City, lawmakers in New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington, D.C., have also passed laws barring job ads that say applicants must be employed, reports the AP. However, 15 other states have introduced similar jobless-discrimination laws, which have been unsuccessful for a variety of reasons.

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