Unemployment Status Discrimination
In New York City, it is unlawful for employers to discriminate against individuals on the basis of the individual being unemployed. Victims of unemployment discrimination should speak with an experienced New York City employment lawyer, such as the discrimination attorneys at Famighetti & Weinick PLLC.
The Great Recession of 2008 caused the most devastating unemployment crisis in the United States since the Great Depression. Though employment numbers have gradually improved since the Great Recession, there were still 6.6 million unemployed Americans as of June 2018, according to the United State Department of Labor.
Despite improving job numbers, research shows that the longer an individual is unemployed, the more difficult it is to find a job. Although being unemployed is not a protected class under Federal or New York State law, New York City amended its City Human Rights Law to include unemployment as a protected category worthy of protections against employment discrimination. If you are employed in New York City, the employment attorneys at Famighetti & Weinick PLLC are well versed in unemployment status discrimination cases and are ready and able to represent your best interests in negotiating with your employer and, if necessary, filing a complaint or initiating litigation.
As mentioned above, there are no federal laws currently in place preventing an employer from discriminating against an applicant based on that person's unemployment status. There have been efforts to enact such laws, however. For example, in September 2011, President Obama recommended two bills, informally knows as the American Jobs Act, to a joint session of Congress. Among other things, the bills would have prohibited discrimination against the unemployed under federal law. Unfortunately, the bills did not make it past the Senate. In addition to lack of employment discrimination protections for the unemployed under federal law, New York State has yet to amend its Human Rights Law to include the unemployed as a protected class.
New York City, on the other hand, has joined a handful of cities and municipalities in the country by enacting laws to combat unemployment discrimination. In 2013, the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) was amended to add unemployment to the list of protected classes. This law is found in the N.Y.C Admin Code 8-107, which outlines the employment protections, as well as couple of exceptions to the protections, afforded to the unemployed. Notably, an employer must have at least four employees in order to come under the purview of the NYCHRL. Moreover, as with other protected classes under the NYCHRL, employers are prohibited from making hiring, salary, benefits, and any other decision that affects the terms and conditions of employment, based on a person's unemployment status.
In addition, this amendment to the NYCHRL prevents an employer from representing that an available job is unavailable due to an applicant's unemployment status. Finally, an employer is generally not allowed to publish an advertisement for a job vacancy that indicates current employment is a requirement or qualification for a job, or that an employer will not consider an applicant because of their unemployment status.
There are a few exceptions to above protections. First, the law allows employers to consider substantially job-related qualifications, including, but not limited to: 1) a current and valid professional or occupational license; 2) a certificate, registration, permit, or other credential; 3) a minimum level of education or training; or 4) a minimum level of professional, occupational, or field experience. The law also allows an advertisement for a job vacancy to reference that the employer will consider the above-mentioned qualifications, and that the employer will only consider employees currently employed by them in filling a particular position.
What actions may qualify as unemployment status discrimination? Certainly, if a prospective employer or recruiter specifically stated that they would not consider an applicant due to that person's unemployment status, a good case could be made that the employer has committed unemployment status discrimination. Moreover, if an otherwise qualified applicant is not ultimately offered a position, that person may be able to make a case that they were discriminated against due to their unemployment status (though it would likely be difficult for the applicant to prove their unemployment status was the reason they were not hired).
The Long Island employment attorneys at Famighetti & Weinick PLLC are knowledgeable regarding unemployment status discrimination cases. If you are unemployed in New York City and feel that you have been the victim of unemployment status discrimination, please do not hesitate to contact the Unemployment Discrimination lawyers at Famighetti & Weinick PLLC today.