NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A New York City Councilman said he expects the Council to override Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s veto of a bill that would have prevented employers from shunning out-of-work job-seekers.
As WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported, Brooklyn City Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-43rd), who co-sponsored the measure, said the current situation is unfair.
“Employers are basically saying or employment agencies are saying those who are unemployed need not apply,” Gentile said, “and that, again, is a Catch-22 that you need to have a job to get a job.”
Gentile said the current setup amounts to discrimination.
“This is a direct exclusion of many otherwise qualified people who are unemployed, and excluded by the mere fact of their unemployment from seeking other jobs, so that’s what we’re trying to stop,” Gentile said.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn also said Friday that 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.
Unlike similar laws in other places, New York’s would also let rejected applicants sue employers.
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.
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 those holding that view. In his veto message, he called the bill misguided, and indicated that if it were enacted, it would lead to an avalanche of legal actions by aggrieved unemployed people turned down for 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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