New York City Approves Employment Discrimination Testing Program

Posted: May 07, 2015


In an effort to strengthen the Human Rights Commission and bolster accountability, New York City Mayor de Blasio recently signed into law two separate bills – Int 421 and Int 690-A. Int 421 amended NYC’s Administrative Code to require the Human Rights Commission to include within its annual report information regarding investigations it initiated during the calendar year. As part of this addition to the annual report, the Commission must include such details as the total number of investigations initiated, the total number of Commission-initiated complaints and the total number of investigations referred to the Corporation Counsel for the purpose of commencing a civil action. As noted in the City Council’s press release at the end of March, the goal of Int 421 is to “increase transparency regarding the number and type of investigations initiated by the Commission each year.” Int 690-A establishes an employment discrimination testing program. (Note: A similar bill, Int 689-A, was also passed and enacted that creates a housing discrimination testing program.) Through this program the Commission will use “testers” to conduct at least five investigations of local employers, labor organizations or employment agencies throughout the course of a year. Essentially this program involves pairs of testers that will apply for or inquire about the same job with an employer. The pair will have similar credentials but will have a difference in one of the following: “actual or perceived age, race, creed, color, national origin, gender, disability, marital status, partnership status, sexual orientation or alienage or citizenship status, or other characteristic protected pursuant to title 8 of the administrative code of the city of New York.” Any incidents of perceived or actual discrimination will be referred to the Commission’s law enforcement bureau. This investigation process will commence on or before October 1, 2015. By March 1, 2017, the Commission will be required to submit a report detailing the employment discrimination investigations. New York City Council has been extremely active in considering legislation that impacts employers. As recently reported, legislation passed prohibiting employers from conducting credit checks on individuals for employment purposes unless an exception was met. Mayor de Blasio signed Int 261-A on May 6th so the legislation will be effective in 120 days. Employers hiring within New York City are strongly advised to revisit their hiring practices in consultation with qualified legal counsel to ensure compliance with applicable human rights and employment laws.