NYC
01/23/2013 05:57 pm ET

Unemployment Discrimination Banned By New York Council Bill

The New York City Council passed a bill Wednesday that would ban businesses from discriminating against unemployed job applicants.

The measure would stop employers from considering an applicant's employment status and also prohibit job ads that specify applicants must be currently employed. According to its sponsors, it will help the long-term jobless get back to work.

"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 in a statement earlier on Wednesday.

Job ads specifying that the unemployed need not apply first came to national attention in 2010. Staffing firms that have posted ads requiring applicants to be currently employed have told HuffPost that businesses consider people with jobs to be more desirable candidates than people without jobs.

"The practice deepens the hardship of those struggling to return to the workforce, and exacerbates the crisis levels of long-term unemployment that New Yorkers -- and Americans across the country -- continue to face," Christine Owens, director of the National Employment Law Project, said in a statement.

A 2012 survey of hiring managers found that jobless candidates were viewed as less qualified even if they had the same resume as currently employed candidates. The problem may be especially bad for people out of work for long periods of time.

New Jersey and Oregon passed laws in recent years banning job ads that discourage the unemployed from sending in their resumes. And in 2011, President Barack Obama proposed banning discrimination against the jobless, but the measure stalled in Congress.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has vowed to veto the law, saying it would hurt small businesses, but Wednesday's 44-4 vote suggests the council can easily override the veto (it needs only 34 votes to do so).

The New York bill would still allow employers to consider job applicants' employment status so long as there's a "substantially job-related reason" to do so, according to a description of the legislation. The measure would give workers who feel they've been discriminated against based on job status the right to file a complaint with the city's Human Rights Commission.

HuffPost readers: Unemployed? Back to work but making less money? Tell us about it -- email arthur@huffingtonpost.com. Please include your phone number if you're willing to be interviewed.

CONVERSATIONS