As the New York Business Litigation Attorney Blog reported in May, New York lawmakers introduced legislation that would add the unemployed to a protected class as unemployment discrimination is an ongoing issue.
But as that bill goes through the proper channels before possibly becoming a law, employers are still openly discriminating against those who have lost their jobs and are desperately seeking work. That means that for 8 percent of the state of New York's population and 8.8 in New York City, according to the New York State Department of Labor, they are being unfairly denied interviews because they are currently unemployed. New Jersey was the first state to ban unemployment discrimination, with a law that went into effect June 1.
While companies are trying to employ only certain classes of people, this form of employment discrimination in New York is unacceptable and shouldn't be tolerated. Just because New York law hasn't thrust those who are unemployed into a protected class, such as the disabled, it doesn't mean this is proper.
Everyone should have an equal ability to gain employment, regardless of certain characteristics, such as not currently having a job. Certainly, a person shouldn't face discrimination at work for being disabled, a certain gender, age, race or status, but discrimination also shouldn't come because a person is unemployed, as many people are today. Until a law passes, making a claim might be difficult, but the issue highlights the fact that many classes are already protected under today's employment laws, including those who are discriminated against based on age, race, religion and military status.
According to the article in The New York Times, a recent review of job listings on popular websites shows that hundreds of employers would consider or strongly prefer only people currently employed or recently laid off. Even someone out of work for six months had a tough time finding work, the article reports.
The newspaper reports that given the average duration of unemployment is at an all-time high -- about nine months -- limiting qualified prospective employees to currently or recently employed probably disqualifies millions of people from work. The companies seeking work range from hotel concierges and air-conditioning technicians to business analysts and auditors.
Because those employers actually hiring are receiving likely an untold number of applications, experts say, they are being more selective.
Whether discrimination happens at the office or before even getting a job, it is unlawful and unjust. Thousands of claims of discrimination are filed each year as employees end up missing out on promotions, miss out on training opportunities or are simply cast aside for better-looking or younger workers. Despite the laws in place in New York and throughout the country, bosses and employers in record numbers ignore them and wrongly give preference to some employees over others.
With our state and our entire nation slow to recover from the effects of the Great Recession, employment discrimination shouldn't be happening. These companies should be held responsible for their actions.
The Law Offices of Ira S. Newman provides employment law counsel in New York City, Long Island, Great Neck and throughout the area. Call 516-487-7375 or contact us through the website.
More Blog Entries:
Verizon Resolves Disability Workers Case for $20 Million: July 15, 2011
The Help-Wanted Sign Comes With a Frustrating Asterisk, by Catherine Rampell, The New York Times