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Controversial NYC Jobless-Discrimination Bill Vetoed By Bloomberg

(credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

(credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Friday vetoed what would have been the nation’s most aggressive measure to try to prevent employers from shunning out-of-work job-seekers, calling it a misguided plan that would create more lawsuits than jobs.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said the council would soon override the veto of the measure, which would have made the city the fourth place in the nation to ban job ads that say unemployed applicants won’t qualify.

Councilman Vincent Gentile defended the controversial legislation.

“Employers are basically saying or employment agencies are saying those who are unemployed need not apply and that again is a Catch 22 that you need to have a job to get a job,” he told 1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks.

Unlike similar laws in other places, New York’s would also let rejected applicants sue employers.

Amid four years of above-average joblessness, efforts to bar employers from shunning out-of-work applicants have been floated around the country but have met mixed results.

New Jersey, Oregon and Washington, D.C., have passed unemployment-discrimination laws. But California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed one last fall, and similar proposals have stalled in more than a dozen other states and Congress.

Advocates portray unemployment as the latest in a line of irrelevant attributes that job applicants can’t control and shouldn’t be judged on.

Applicants “are out there, doing what we tell them to do, pounding the pavement, putting out their resume, only to hear that the fact that they’re unemployed makes them ineligible for a job,” Quinn said Friday. “It’s the exact wrong message to people.”

Opponents said the problem is exaggerated, hiring decisions are too complicated to legislate and employers could end up defending themselves against dubious complaints.

Bloomberg was among them, saying the measure was misguided, warning it would create more lawsuits than jobs.

At 8.8 percent, New York City’s unemployment rate tops the state and national figures. Bloomberg said he was concerned about joblessness, but the proposed law wasn’t the way to fix it.

“Hiring decisions frequently involve the exercise of independent, subjective judgment about a prospective employee’s likely future performance, and the creation of this ambiguous legal standard will make it harder for employers to make decisions that will benefit their businesses,” he said in a letter explaining his veto decision.

Fearing lawsuits, companies might just hire from within their ranks rather than expose themselves to a potential complaints from an out-of-work applicant, he argued.

But worker advocates said government should step in to make sure the unemployed get a shot at jobs.

An October 2011 search of New York City-based job listings found more than a dozen that explicitly required candidates to be employed, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s office said. A broader review that year by the National Employment Law Project found 150 ads that were restricted to or aimed at people currently working.

As for why, academic researchers have suggested employers — however unfairly — may worry that applicants’ skills atrophy while they’re unemployed or that they lost jobs because they weren’t top performers.

Quinn said she expected a vote within a month to override the veto.

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(TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)