Author: David B. Weisenfeld, XpertHR Legal Editor

New York City has passed the nation's broadest law thus far to ban employers from discriminating against out-of-work job applicants. The law is the first to permit unemployed individuals who believe they have been victimized by discrimination to sue prospective employers for compensatory and punitive damages. It also allows them to obtain attorney fees.

New Jersey, Oregon and the District of Columbia all have passed laws within the last two years prohibiting employers from listing "current employment" as a requirement in a job advertisement. But none go as far as the New York City measure.

As XpertHR reported last month, Mayor Michael Bloomberg had vetoed the New York law and called it a "misguided piece of legislation." But the City Council overwhelmingly overrode the Mayor's veto on March 13 in a 44-4 vote. Supporters said it was unfair to penalize people twice who have lost their jobs "through no fault of their own." The law takes effect in 90 days.

A National Employment Law Project review found 150 job ads in 2011 that either were aimed at or limited to people currently working. Several New York City job listings that year also reportedly mandated that candidates be employed to be considered, according to the Associated Press.

More than a dozen states have considered laws to ban discriminatory job ads based on employment status. California came the closest to enacting such a measure, but Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the state's proposed law in September 2012 because he was unhappy with amendments that had been made.

Additional Resources

Recruiting and Hiring > Recruiting > Discrimination Against Unemployed Applicants