New York City Prohibits Discrimination Against the Unemployed

New York City has expanded the scope of its Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) to prohibit job discrimination based upon a job applicant’s status as unemployed. The amendments to the NYCHRL define the term “unemployed” to mean someone “not having a job, being available for work, and seeking employment.” The amendments, which will become effective on June 11, 2013, are groundbreaking in that they make New York City the first jurisdiction in the United States to provide a private right of action for discrimination based on an applicant’s “unemployed” status. If successful in pursuing such claims, denied job applicants may recover compensatory and punitive damages, as well as their attorneys’ fees and costs. In light of this, New York City employers should immediately begin preparing for these coming changes by reviewing their hiring practices, as well as their job advertisements and postings.