On March 13, 2013, over the objection of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the New York City Council overwhelmingly passed a new ordinance prohibiting discrimination in employment based on an individual’s unemployment. The passage of the ordinance occurred after nearly one year of heated debate and will go into effect in June 2013.

Under the new law, employers may not use job ads and postings to screen out unemployed applicants, and employers may not refuse to hire a qualified applicant based on the person’s unemployment.  Employers may consider an applicant’s unemployed status if there is a “substantially job-related reason for doing so,” and employers may inquire into “the circumstances surrounding an applicant’s separation from prior employment.”

In anticipation of the new law becoming effective, New York City employers are wise to eliminate from all job ads any language discouraging unemployed applicants from applying or suggesting the employer will not consider an unemployed applicant. Employers also should advise managers, recruiters and human resources professionals – anyone communicating with an applicant – about the law’s prohibitions and insuring that improper questions are not asked.