NYC Proposes Legislation Prohibiting Veteran Discrimination

By Leeds Brown Law | August 24, 2016

New York employment discrimination attorneys at Leeds Brown have spent decades supporting the rights of people who fall into legally protected classes. Recently, New York City Mayor DeBlasio along with members of the New York City Council introduced legislation that would amend New York City Human Rights Law to include a new protected class of individuals.

Under the proposed amendment, men and women currently or formerly serving in the uniformed services will receive protection from employment and housing discrimination. The amendment also gives service members who are victims of discrimination the ability to file claims with the NYC HR commission.

With over 900,000 veterans in the state and over 200,000 of them living in NYC, these new protections can help many people secure employment and enforce their rights to equal treatment, including thousands of active military personnel and reservists. New York City will be one step closer to ending discrimination against the men and women who risk their lives to protect our country.

Military Personnel Struggle to Find Employment in New York and Nationwide

Many veterans and active service members across the country face challenges when seeking stable employment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are nearly 14,000 unemployed veterans in New York State alone.

Why is it difficult for current and former military personnel to find work? Some employers worry that a uniformed service member on active duty will be deployed during his or her employment leaving them with no one to do the job for which that person was hired. The uncertainty for some employers is all it takes to decide not to hire someone in the military.

Other employers may make assumptions that veterans and service members suffer from mental health problems and are, therefore, risky, unpredictable candidates.

According to the Mayor, veterans across the country routinely face obstacles in employment, housing, and public accommodations. DeBlasio stated, “We don’t tolerate that in New York City. These brave men and women put their lives on the line for our country, and they deserve respect and dignity. This new law will ensure all military and other uniformed service members, both returned and active, can live and work free from discrimination in New York City.”

What Does Uniformed Services Mean?

Under the amendment “uniformed service” includes former or current service in one of the many branches of our nation’s military. Some of them are:

  • The US, Navy, Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Army or Air National Guard
  • A reserve component of the United States Army, Navy, Air Force Marine Corps or Coast Guard
  • An organized New York State Militia
  • Any service designated in the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Act (USERA)

What is Unlawful Discrimination Against Current and Former Uniformed Service Members?

The new amendment would prohibit employers from discriminating against any person by his or her current or past uniformed service in the following ways:

  • Compensation, privileges or conditions of employment
  • Refusing to hire
  • Firing
  • Representing that a position is not available when it is

The amendment would also prohibit employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against uniformed service members advertising, recruiting, staffing or concerning membership in a union.

Interestingly, the amendment states that providing an employment preference or privilege based on current or former uniformed service is NOT unlawful discrimination.

New York City Stands Firm in Protecting Current and Former Uniformed Service Men and Women from Employment Discrimination

New York City continues to make it clear that it will not tolerate employment discrimination against the people who protect our country and state. The mayor has allocated funds to bolster the support that veterans and military personnel often need in everyday life. This new amendment extends New York City’s commitment to protecting the rights and privileges of our service members.

As stated by Kristen Rouse, the Founding Director of the NYC Veterans Alliance, “Adding uniformed service to our city’s comprehensive human rights laws will send a powerful message to our veterans and military members that New York City supports, honors, and protects them.”

Contact New York Employment Discrimination Lawyers

Leeds Brown is New York’s leading employment rights firm. Our lawyers dedicate themselves to protecting the rights of workers here at home and across the nation. Contact Leeds Brown at 1-800-585-4658 if you have experienced workplace discrimination and would like to understand your legal options.


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