Ex-offenders sue for discrimination

Stephon Johnson | 7/2/2015, 10:22 a.m.
Last Thursday, the NAACP New York State Conference Metropolitan Council of Branches filed a class action lawsuit against employers who ...
NAACP

Last Thursday, the NAACP New York State Conference Metropolitan Council of Branches filed a class action lawsuit against employers who use the job sites Monster, ZipRecruiter and Indeed to illegally post job listings in New York with bans on applicants with felony convictions. The lawsuit seeks an injunction forbidding the defendants from posting and disseminating the illegal listings on job sites.

The employers named in this complaint include technology and information management industry leaders such as Philips, NTT Data and Recall and smaller employers such as Advance Tech Pest Control. Monster, Indeed and ZipRecruiter were also 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 NAACP New York Metropolitan Council Director Ken Cohen in a statement. “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.”

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

“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 in a statement. “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 New York City branches of the NAACP in this important case, and we will seek a swift resolution that will end this illegal discrimination.”

Considering the disproportionate number of Blacks and Latinos who have been incarcerated, some have pointed out that the lack of opportunity may lead to increased recidivism. Ray McClain of the Employment Discrimination Project alluded to such.

“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 McClain in a statement. “Nationally, up to 30 percent 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.”