On March 13, 2013, the New York City Council, by a vote
of 43 to 4, overrode Mayor Michael Bloomberg's February 22, 2013 veto of Local Law 14 of 2013 ("Local Law 14″ or the "Act").
Effective June 11, 2013, Local Law 14 prohibits any employer in New York City
from basing an employment decision with regard to hiring, compensation, or the
terms and conditions of employment "on an applicant's unemployment" without "a
substantially job-related reason for doing so."
The Act amends section 8-102 of the New York City Human
Rights Law, N.Y. City Admin. Code §§ 8-101 - 8-131 (the "NYCHRL").
Local Law 14 subjects, to intermediate scrutiny, any
decision of a business in New York City with respect to hiring, wages, or terms
of employment which is based on the applicant not having a job.
Local Law 14 applies to any employer employing four or
more employees (including individuals properly classified as independent
contractors). The new law will not apply to certain governmental
In addition to the above-mentioned "substantially
job-related reason" exception, Local Law 14 sets forth three other exceptions
to the Act's prohibiting of employers in New York City from basing hiring
decisions on an applicant's unemployment. Specifically, (i) an employer
may "inquir[e] into the circumstances surrounding an applicant's separation
from prior employment," (ii) an employer may "determin[e] that only applicants
who are currently employed by the employer will be considered for employment or
given priority for employment," and (iii) an employer may "set compensation
or terms of conditions of employment based on . . . [a] person's actual amount
Apart from generally barring businesses in New York City
from basing hiring decisions on the applicant's unemployment, Local Law 14
prohibits employers from publishing, in print or in any other medium,
advertisements for any job vacancy in the City (i) stating that being currently
employed is a requirement for the position or (ii) providing that an employer
will not consider individuals for employment based on their lack of a job.
Individuals may enforce the new law by utilizing the
existing enforcement procedures of the New York City Human Rights Law.
That is, Local Law 14 authorizes any applicant aggrieved
by a hiring decision made based on the applicant's unemployment to file an
administrative complaint with the New York City Commission on Human Rights or
to file a civil action in a court of law. In such a civil action, as in
any action under the NYCHRL, punitive damages are unlimited; a prevailing party
may recover his or her costs and reasonable attorney's fees; and not only the
employer, but also individual employees or agents of the employer, may be held
Take-Aways for Employers
Employers in New York City must review and revise their
their present workplace policies, applications for employment, employee
handbooks, and job advertisements to make clear that the employers do not discriminate
in hiring, compensation, or the terms and conditions of employment based on an
applicant's unemployment. Further, employers in the City should train
supervisors and managers concerning the employer's and the trainees'
obligations not to base hiring decisions on an applicant's lack of a job.
If your company needs assistance or guidance on a labor or employment law
issue and your company is located in the New York City area, call Attorney
David S. Rich at (212) 209-3972.
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