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NAACP Files Suit against a Class of New York Employers for Their Illegal Discrimination against Ex-Offenders

PRNewswire—Outten & Golden LLP

New York, N.Y. – The NAACP New York State Conference Metropolitan Council of Branches today 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.  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,” said Ken D. Cohen, Director of the NAACP NY Metropolitan Council.

“The public policy of New York State and City is to encourage the employment of those previously convicted of criminal offenses. 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,” said Ossai Miazad of Outten & Golden LLP.

“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.  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,” said Ray P. McClain, Director of the Employment Discrimination Project.

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. For more information, contact Jonathan Kent at jkent@rabengroup.com or 646-801-5567.

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The NAACP is the nation’s oldest, largest, and most respected civil rights organization.  It has the mission to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race based discrimination.  It is a membership organization with local community “branches” and broader “state conferences” located in communities throughout the United States, including New York State.  The NAACP’s Metropolitan Council is plaintiff in this suit, and is comprised of fourteen (14) local Branches operating within the City of New York.

Outten & Golden LLP is a nationwide firm that enjoys a strong national reputation for representing workers in impact and class litigation. Outten & Golden’s attorneys take on cases that challenge illegal discrimination and/or harassment in the workplace to effect systemic change.  The firm has significant experience representing job applicants and employees unfairly denied jobs because of their criminal record and/or an improper background check, including the recent certification of a class of hundreds of thousands of African Americans and Latinos denied the opportunity to compete for temporary jobs offered by the U.S. Census Bureau during the 2010 decennial census.   

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to enlist the private bar’s leadership and resources in combating racial discrimination and the resulting inequality of opportunity.  The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure equal justice for all through the rule of law, targeting in particular the inequities confronting African Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities.