Council: Employers can’t discriminate based on employment status

Job seekers attend an employment fair in New York City.

Imagine struggling for months to find a job, only to find out a strike against you is that you are looking for one.

Job advertisements around the city include notices that unemployed people should not apply, city officials say.

The City Council voted today to prohibit employers from using employment status in hiring decisions.

“We cannot, and will not, allow New Yorkers who are qualified and ready to work have the door of opportunity slammed in their faces,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn said.

Just over half – 51 percent – of unemployed New Yorker have been actively searching for work for six months, according to the Council.

New York City’s unemployment rate stands at 8.8 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, higher than the national average of 7.8 percent.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said dozens of job listings require candidates to already have a job.

The city would be the first in the nation to allow people who think they have been discriminated against to file a lawsuit.

But not everyone is on board – Mayor Michael Bloomberg has vowed to veto it, saying it would make employers fear potential lawsuits.

The bill specifies that employers can consider other things like whether an applicant has a license, permit or other credential needed for the job.

Park Slope resident Yvonne Girela, 53, told Metro that after taking time off to care for her dying brother, employers did not warm to her over-50, unemployed status.

“I get discriminated all the time because I’m unemployed,” she said. “Here I am, four years later, had to get on public assistance.”

Employers cannot ask your age, she said, but often ask instead when she graduated high school. “So then I don’t get a call back.”

She makes candy lollipops as added income and keeps applying, hoping for a job in community outreach.


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