Author: David B. Weisenfeld, XpertHR Legal Editor

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has vetoed what would have been the nation's broadest law to date to prohibit employers from discriminating against the unemployed.

New Jersey, Oregon and the District of Columbia have passed laws precluding employers from listing "current employment" as a requirement in a job advertisement. New York City's measure would have gone further by permitting unemployed individuals who believed they were the victims of discrimination to sue prospective employers for compensatory and punitive damages, as well as obtain attorney fees.

However, Mayor Bloomberg's February 22 veto may not be the last word on the issue. While he has referred to the proposed New York City law as "a misguided piece of legislation... that would create more lawsuits than jobs," it passed the City Council by a 44-6 margin. That vote total suggests an override of the veto is rather likely.

Advocates of this bill and others like it say it is unfair for employers to penalize qualified applicants who might have been out of work for a while through no fault of their own. Several states have recently considered similar laws to ban discriminatory job ads based on employment status. California came the closest to passing such a measure, but Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the state's proposed law in September 2012.

Additional Resources

Recruiting and Hiring > Recruiting > Discrimination Against Unemployed Applicants