City Council Passes Legislation To Protect Unemployed
MANHATTAN — New legislation that will make it unlawful for employers to discriminate against unemployed job seekers was introduced by the City Council yesterday.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, joined by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Council members Leroy Comrie, Vincent Gentile and Deborah Rose (chair of the Council Civil Rights Committee), plus jobs advocates, announced the new legislation in the Red Room, noting that the proposed law will also ban “help-wanted” ads that say the unemployed will not be considered.
Since the economic downturn, city officials have reported seeing several examples of job postings that require would-be candidates to be currently employed.
“While there are encouraging signs that our economy is beginning to improve, the recovery is still fragile and we must do more to help New Yorkers find work. Prohibiting employers from discriminating against the unemployed will end a practice that has kept too many of our city’s residents from applying for work they are qualified to do,” said Quinn. “The long-term unemployed face some of the bleakest job prospects in our economy and we can’t stand by and watch them be needlessly held back.”
The city’s unemployment rate rose in January to a 16-month high of 9.3 percent, up from 9.1 percent in December and that’s one percentage point higher than the nationwide unemployment rate of 8.3 percent, according to Quinn.
The situation is particularly damaging for low-income and minority populations, who have endured the worst of this recession. The unemployment rate for blacks is around 13.6 percent and for Hispanics it’s 10 percent. Nationally, the long-term unemployed comprise almost 43 percent of the unemployed population.
Under the new law, employers would still be permitted to request or use someone’s unemployment status information, as long as they have a bona fide reason that is substantially job-related for doing so or if they need to assess the circumstances around an applicant’s previous termination or demotion.
Said Brooklyn’s Gentile, “Preventing otherwise well-qualified men and women from applying for a job simply because they are currently unemployed is counterintuitive and unconscionable. Now is not the time for catch-22s — we need to be doing everything we can to help New York residents get back to work.”
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