Out Of Work Job Seekers Could Sue Potential Employers in New York City

The lawmakers in the New York City Council are out of their minds.

New York City will soon have the nation's most far-reaching laws barring employers from not interviewing out-of-work job applicants, after lawmakers passed legislation in March over a mayoral veto.

When the law takes effect in three months, the city will be the only one in the U.S. that lets applicants sue employers for damages over claims that they were rejected because of their unemployment status.

This is progressivism on steroids.

Even Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who's no stranger to big government legislation, thought this was going too far. A business owner himself, Bloomberg vetoed the bill because he knew this would do more to help out-of-work lawyers than it will job seekers. As a mayoral spokeswoman rightfully identified, the bill will make employers fear litigation from every candidate who walks through the door.

Think about that for a minute. We're supposed to be encouraging employers and business owners to be hiring the unemployed and now they carry the risk of a lawsuit just by bringing a candidate in for an interview. This is going to have the opposite effect.

In fact, it will probably only make matters for the jobless worse. This will only encourage employers to outsource more jobs out of state – to New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

But despite his objections, Bloomberg had his veto overridden by the City Council to score populist points with the unemployed and trial lawyers – two key constituencies for the Democratic Party.

Unemployed job-hunters and their advocates say it's unfair to be required to have a job to get a job, particularly after years of high unemployment and layoffs. But while New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington, D.C. have passed laws barring job ads that say applicants must be employed, none of those states went so far enough to allow job seekers to sue on the grounds that they weren't even interviewed.

Business owners and Bloomberg predict the unemployment-discrimination measure will lead to baseless lawsuits from applicants who are disgruntled but weren't discriminated against, and they're right.

"It is essentially open season on employers in New York City," said Keith Gutstein, an employment lawyer who represents businesses.

The bill was championed by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn; currently the leading Democratic candidate for mayor after Bloomberg leaves office. Looks like she's already planting the seeds for her support come November. She's also got the unions firmly behind her since she's pushing a bill mandating paid sick days for nearly a million more members. Under the deal, businesses with at least 20 employees would have to offer five paid sick days a year beginning in April 2014. The mandate would extend to businesses with at least 15 workers the following year.

Bloomberg is threatening to veto that bill too, saying it will hurt small businesses and stifle job creation. Quinn says she has the votes to override that veto as well.

This won't help the already weak job market. Good luck New Yorkers.