New law would protect city vets with Human Rights Law

By Patrick Donachie

Legislation was introduced Tuesday that will make veterans a protected class under New York City’s Human Rights Law, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio and other elected officials.

The legislation would create a new venue for veterans to bring claims of discrimination if they think they are not being awarded equal treatment under the law. The New York City Human Rights Law offers people recourse against discrimination in housing, employment and other matters. The bill will also pertain to active service members.

“Veterans across the country routinely face obstacles in employment, housing and public accommodations,” de Blasio said. “We don’t tolerate that in New York City. These brave men and women put their lives on the line for our country and they deserve respect and dignity.”

According to the city, veterans and active service members may face discrimination from employers who believe they may be deployed at any time or unfairly believe they may have mental health trauma due to experiences during their service. Some veterans have also reported housing discrimination from landlords concerned about sudden deployment.

Nearly 14,000 veterans in New York state are currently unemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and there are about 2,500 homeless veterans throughout the state. City Department of Veterans’ Services Commissioner Loree Sutton said the new protections were welcome news for veterans.

“Adding current or prior service in uniformed services as a protected class provides additional protections and increases accessibility to a community that would not ordinarily seek assistance from state and federal governments,” she said.

Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdonachie@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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