New York Bill Would Bar Discrimination against Unemployed Job Seekers by Making the Unemployed a Protected Class

In an effort to bar discrimination against unemployed job seekers in New York state, Senate Bill 5316 (SB 5316) – proposed by Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins (35th District- D/WF/I) – would make the unemployed a “protected class” in New York and make it illegal for employers to deny out-of-work applicants an interview or position solely because they are jobless. In addition, SB 5316 would prohibit employers from posting job advertisements that discourage the unemployed from applying to vacant positions, according to a press release on the Senator’s website.

“It is fundamentally unfair for employers to refuse to hire, or even accept applications from individuals who are out of work,” Senator Stewart-Cousins said at a press conference, where she was joined by unemployed job seekers who had experienced discrimination because they are unemployed, experiences the Senator said are an increasingly common hiring practice throughout New York and the nation. “This legislation levels the playing field in the job market and makes sure that those who have been hit hardest by the recession are not at a disadvantage in the hiring process.”

As reported earlier on the Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News blog “EEOC Examines Practice of Employers Excluding Unemployed Job Applicants from Job Vacancies,” the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – which enforces the nation’s laws prohibiting employment discrimination – held a public meeting in February 2011 to examine the practice by employers of considering only those currently employed for job vacancies and excluding currently unemployed persons from job applicant pools, including in job announcements, and also to hear from invited panelists on the potential impact on job seekers (See: EEOC press release titled ‘Out of Work? Out of Luck.’).

The meeting gave the EEOC an opportunity to learn about the emerging practice of excluding unemployed persons from applicant pools as part of the EEOC’s commitment to ensure job applicants are treated fairly in the hiring process. The EEOC meeting shows that the government is concerned that some companies may not be considering unemployed applicants for job openings and are excluding the jobless from applying. Information about the EEOC meeting, including statements and biographies of the witnesses, may be found at

To read the full text of New York SB 5316, visit

About Employment Screening Resources (ESR): Founded in 1997 in the San Francisco Bay area with a mission to help employers and employees maintain safe workplaces, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) and wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by founder and President Lester Rosen. For more information about ESR, visit or email ESR News Editor Thomas Ahearn at