Do Not Apply: NAACP Sues Companies For Illegal Discrimination Against Ex-Offenders

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Ken D. Cohen

The NAACP New York State Conference Metropolitan Council of Branches has filed a class action against employers who use leading job search sites Monster, Indeed, and ZipRecruiter to illegally post hundreds of job listings in New York with blanket bans on applicants with felony convictions.

New York City law prohibits blanket rejections of applicants based on criminal history.  The employers named in this Complaint exemplify the wide-range of companies engaged in this illegal practice and include large employers in the technology and information management industry like Philips, NTT Data and Recall and smaller employers like Advance Tech Pest Control.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction forbidding the defendants from posting and disseminating these illegal listings on job search websites.  Monster, Indeed, and ZipRecruiter have been joined as enablers of employers’ illegal activities that are necessary to effectuate the relief sought and make sure the injunction is effective and enforced.

"All New Yorkers should have an equal opportunity to compete for jobs for which they are qualified," said Ken D. Cohen, Director of the NAACP NY Metropolitan Council. "When employers illegally deny people who have served their debt to society that opportunity they undermine our city’s health, safety and welfare. We are fortunate to live in a State that has banned discriminatory ‘ex-offenders need not apply’ postings, but we are gravely concerned that so many employers, with the help of sites like Monster, Indeed, and ZipRecruiter, repeatedly violate this law. This lawsuit will force them to cease this illegal behavior to the benefit of our communities, our economy, and society as a whole."

"“The public policy of New York State and City is to encourage the employment of those previously convicted of criminal offenses," said Ossai Miazad of Outten & Golden LLP. "New York Corrections Law and New York City Human Rights Law plainly prohibit blanket bans on ex-offender applicants without considering other factors. We are proud to represent the NYC branches of the NAACP in this important case, and we will seek a swift resolution that will end this illegal discrimination."

"Private companies are posting clearly illegal listings excluding applicants who have been convicted of felonies. By violating the law, the employers who post these listings prevent formerly incarcerated workers from reentering society and making lives for themselves, and those affected are predominantly African Americans and Latinos," said Ray P. McClain, Director of the Employment Discrimination Project.

"Nationally, up to 30% of African-American men of working age have felony convictions, so barriers that exclude these men from getting jobs contribute substantially to the disproportionately high unemployment rates for workers of color."

The full complaint, filed today in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County, can be found here. It was filed jointly by Outten & Golden LLP, the Lawyers’ Committee of Civil Rights Under Law and NAACP attorney James I. Meyerson on behalf of the Metropolitan Council.

The NAACP NY Metropolitan Council and Outten & Golden will hold a press conference on the steps of New York City Hall at 2:00 p.m. today to discuss the suit. They will be joined by Manhattan Deputy Borough President Aldrin Bonilla.

 

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