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TheStreet Open House

Ambitious NYC Jobless-discrimination Bill Vetoed

By JENNIFER PELTZ

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ 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. 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 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.

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