City Council Bars Employers From Discriminating Against the Unemployed

By Jill Colvin on January 24, 2013 7:39am 

 The City Council voted to ban employers from considering job-seekers' employment status.
The City Council voted to ban employers from considering job-seekers' employment status.
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City Council/William Alatriste

CITY HALL — The City Council has voted to bar employers from considering an applicant's job status in hiring decisions — sparking yet another showdown with Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Under the rules, employers will no longer be able to dismiss job-seekers just because they're currently unemployed. The rules, voted on by the council Wednesday, also bar job listings that specify applicants must be working to apply.

"Discrimination is wrong in all its forms, and we cannot — and will not — allow New Yorkers who are qualified and ready to work have the door of opportunity slammed in their faces,” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said in a statement before the bill passed the council 44-4.

Those who feel wronged will be able to sue the companies or file complaints with the Human Rights Commission, which can force employers to hire people and pay fines, Quinn's office said.

But Bloomberg, who vowed Wednesday to veto the bill, slammed it as "one of the most misguided pieces of legislation." He added that the measure would also open the door to endless lawsuits small businesses can't afford.

“What the bill does is, it says If you have been unemployed for a period and you don’t get a job you applied for, then you can sue the employer, arguing that they were illegally discriminating against you," he said.

Bloomberg said the impact would be especially "devastating" for small businesses, dissuading them from making new hires while the economy is still struggling.

Meanwhile, the council voted unanimously on a bill Wednesday that would force gas stations across the city to post new signs that clearly indicate how much they charge for credit, debit card and cash purchase. The prices can differ widely, leaving customers who paid more with plastic feeling duped.
“The idea that a business could show one price to the public, while charging a higher price when they go to pay is just wrong,” sponsor City Councilman Lew Fidler said.