If you are unemployed, you may worry about whether your work status will negatively impact your job search. You should know that in New York City, employers are prohibited from discriminating against you on the basis of your unemployment status. If you believe that you have been discriminated against because of your unemployment status, you can file a complaint with the New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR) or start a lawsuit in court. Employment Practices that are Prohibited by the Law The New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) lists many characteristics that employers cannot base employment decisions on. In 2013, the list of protected characteristics was altered to include unemployment status. According to the law, employers are prohibited from:
  • Basing employment decisions, such as hiring, firing, compensation, benefits, or the terms and conditions of employment, on an applicant’s unemployment status.
  • Advertising for a job opening in a way that states or implies that an applicant must be currently employed to be considered for the position.
  • Enacting hiring policies that have a disparate impact on unemployed job seekers.
Because the law allows for disparate impact claims, rejected applicants who believe that an employer’s seemingly neutral policy had a disproportionately adverse effect on unemployed individuals can file a discrimination claim. Disparate impact claims involve the discriminatory consequences of a policy or practice; the employer’s intentions are not taken into account. Employment Practices that are Allowed by the Law Although employers are prohibited from discriminating against applicants on the basis of their unemployment status, they are allowed to:
  • Consider a candidate’s unemployment status when there is a substantial work-related reason for doing so.
  • Ask about the reason for the applicant’s departure from his or her previous job.
  • Require an applicant to have a valid occupational or professional license
  • Require a minimum level of education, training, or experience.
  • Prioritize their own employees when considering applicants for a current position.
  • Set compensation according to experience.
Filing with the New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR) New York City law allows for victims of unemployment discrimination to file a complaint with the New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR). If the NYCCHR finds that the employer unlawfully discriminated against an applicant, it could award back or front pay, require the employer to hire the applicant, or issue fines of up to $250,000. (For more information about filing a claim with the NYCCHR, visit Bringing a Lawsuit in Court New York City’s laws are unique in that they allow victims of unemployment discrimination to sue for damages in court. Individuals who file a lawsuit may be awarded damages, punitive damages, attorney’s fees, and injunctive relief. The experienced attorneys at Akin Law Group are well versed with the intricacies of New York City, New York State and Federal Discrimination laws and are ready to represent your rights aggressively to ensure the best result possible.  If you have any questions about unemployment discrimination law, or believe that you have been unlawfully discriminated against, call the Akin Law Group as soon as possible.