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What is Unemployment Discrimination?

According to the Pew Research Center, the unemployment rate among blacks is about double that among whites, as it has been for most of the past six decades.

Unemployment discrimination occurs when an employer refuses to hire an individual based on their status of not being actively employed or a long-term absence from the workforce, which an increasing problem, given the current economic situation of the United States.

President Barack Obama attempted to make it unlawful for employers to discriminate against job seekers by including a provision in the American Jobs Act that would have considered unemployment discrimination a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and would allow the EEOC to prosecute employers that engaged in the practice. Unfortunately, the unemployment discrimination provision died when the entire bill failed to achieve the necessary votes for approval.

Meanwhile, a few cities like New York City have adopted legislation that bars employers from discriminating against unemployed job seekers but the city’s law allows job applicants to file lawsuits for damages against employers that have rejected individuals because of their unemployment status.

This bill passed by the New York City Council on January 23, 2013 forbids employers from basing hiring decisions on an applicant’s unemployment status and from posting job advertisements that require the applicant to be employed. The measure does allow an employer to consider the individual’s unemployment in the hiring process where there is a “substantially job-related” reason to do so and it protects the employers’ ability to inquire into the circumstances surrounding the applicant separation from prior employment.

As this is a new area of law there are no cases that have specifically addresses unemployment discrimination but an individual who believes they have been discriminated because of their unemployment status should file a complaint with the Law Enforcement Bureau of the New York City Commission on Human Rights.

You may consider also filing claims of race discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the Civil Rights Act of 1871 (Government employees as well as private employees hired by employers working under a Memorandum of Understanding with a government agency or contractor), and the New York State Human Rights Law because there is substantial data to support that race is a significant factor impacting unemployment rates.

If you believe that, you have suffered from unemployment or race discrimination contact The Sanders Firm, P.C. in New York. We will review your claim thoroughly, providing you with an outline of possible actions you may wish to take. We are ready to be your voice for justice.