Friday, February 22, 2013
NEW YORK (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 has said the council plans to 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.
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. Opponents say the problem is exaggerated, hiring decisions are too complicated to legislate and employers could end up defending themselves against dubious complaints.
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 say 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.
"'Don't apply; don't even try' is the opposite of American values," New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said when the measure passed last month, adding it is particularly true for those laid off due to the economic crunch.
She didn't have an immediate comment Friday.