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Quinn, Stringer Back Legislation to Make Discrimination Against Unemployed Illegal

Thursday, March 22, 2012

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer introduced legislation Wednesday to make it illegal for employers to discriminate against job-seekers who are our of work.

The legislation would make it unlawful to use a person’s job status to make hiring decisions, and the law would ban help-wanted ads that say the unemployed need not apply.

“Having a job should not be a requirement for getting a job,” said Stringer, who added 30 percent of the city’s unemployed have been looking for a job for more than a year.

New York’s unemployment rate is 9.3 percent.

The National Employment Law Project recently conducted a survey of major job websites including Monster, CareerBuilder, Indeed.com, and Craigslist and found that in a four-week period there were more than 150 listings that included exclusionary language such as “must be currently employed.” Since the study, Indeed.com announced they would no longer accept ads that excluded the unemployed.

“It was much more wide-spread than we were anticipating,” said Mitchell Hirsch, an employment activist. “All types of employment are affected by this practice. Everything from restaurant work to very high-tech, well-paid positions.”

It is already illegal to discriminate against a job-seeker based on factors like age, gender or race.

Lawmakers are pursuing similar legislation on both the state and federal levels, and New Jersey had already passed a law banning job ads that exclude the unemployed.

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