New York City has a new law prohibiting employers from discriminating against job applicants because they are not currently employed.  The new law gives rejected job applicants the right to sue for damages if they were denied employment based on their current employment (or, more accurately, unemployment) status.

About the New York City Human Rights Law

The new provision in the New York City Human Rights Law goes into effect on June 11, 2013.  It allows rejected job applicants to seek damages by filing a complaint in court or with the New York City Commission on Human Rights. 

The new unemployment discrimination law makes it illegal to base an employment decision with regard to hiring, compensation or the terms, conditions or privileges of employment on an applicant’s unemployment status.  

The new law also prohibits advertisements for any job vacancy from stating that:  (i) current employment is a requirement or qualification for the job; or (ii) they will not consider an individual for employment based on his or her unemployment.

Employers may ask job applicants why they left their prior employer, including the “circumstances surrounding an applicant’s separation from prior employment.”  This means employers may still consider whether a job applicant was fired from a prior job due to poor performance or misconduct.

The law also gives employer’s a defense to a claim of unemployment discrimination when the employer’s decision was based on “substantially job-related qualifications.”  Some examples of “substantially job-related qualifications” include, where required for the particular job, “a current and valid professional or occupational license; a certificate, registration, permit or another credential; a minimum level of education or training; or a minimum level of professional, occupational or field experience.” 

Applicants who have all the necessary qualifications, however, may not be denied employment simply because they are currently unemployed.

How The Howley Law Firm Can Help

If you believe that you have been denied employment because you are currently unemployed, then you should consult with an experienced employment discrimination lawyer immediately to protect your rights.  There are strict time limits on when you must file your claim. Contact The Howley Law Firm to request a consultation.

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