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New York will test employers on hiring discrimination

Employment discrimination can be difficult to show when it occurs during the hiring process. While it may be obvious if no women are ever hired by a certain employer, it is difficult for an individual to have a sense that they were denied a job because the employer discriminated against them due to some protected status.

When you receive a communication from a potential employer, they typically do not indicate with any specificity why you were not offered a job. They may use bland and generic language that suggests other candidates were better qualified, but as a job applicant, you almost never know if that is true, or if the real reason you did not receive an offer is your gender, religion, disability, sexual orientation, age or any other protected characteristic.

One means of uncovering this type of discrimination is to use "testers." In this role, two individuals will present virtually identical experience and job skills on their application, with the primary difference between them being a characteristic that is protected by one of the federal or New York anti-discrimination statutes.

The City of New York has now approved the use of these testers by the Human Rights Commission, and the Commission will now be required to investigate employers throughout the city.

This means that employers in the City should make certain their job advertisements and hiring processes are designed to avoid illegal discriminatory bias and that their hiring personnel are properly trained. Interviews and the hiring process as a whole should focus on the work skills, educational and job experience of applicants.

The Commission will report on these tests and will refer potential cases of discrimination to City's Law Enforcement Bureau for further investigation and possible prosecution.

Source: nyc.gov, "Mayor de Blasio Signs Legislation to Establish Testing Programs for Housing and Employment Discrimination and Increase Transparency for the Human Rights Commission," Office of the Mayor, April 20, 2015   

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