August 24, 2016
By Stephanie West
New York, NY – On August 16th, legislation was introduced by the New York City Council that would amend the NYC Human Rights Law to include current or prior service in the uniformed services as a protected class in housing, employment and public accommodations.
The bill is a joint proposal by City Council and Public Advocate to create a venue where veterans and service members can bring claims of discrimination and receive fair and equal treatment under the law.
"Veterans across the country routinely face obstacles in employment, housing and public accommodations," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "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. This new law will ensure all military and other uniformed service members, both returned and active, can live and work free from discrimination in New York City."
Finding and maintaining stable employment remains a challenge for many veterans and members of uniformed services. Nearly 14,000 veterans are unemployed across New York State. Some veterans and members of the uniformed services may face employment discrimination when employers refuse to hire them for fear that they will be deployed during employment or falsely assume veterans may suffer from mental health issues.
"New York City has always been a leader in protecting our nation's veterans, and today we put that protection into law," said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito."From regularly including funding for their needs in our annual budgets to establishing the nation's largest standalone Department of Veterans' Services, we are committed to ensuring that the challenges facing our men and women in uniform do not continue once they return home."
Uniformed service members often experience housing discrimination. Landlords sometimes refuse to rent to members of the uniformed services for fear that they may be deployed on official orders or not recognize that veterans using their GI Bill benefits to attend local colleges receive a living allowance to cover the costs a rental.
"No veteran should be denied housing or employment because they risked their lives to serve our country. By guaranteeing our veterans safeguards under the City's Human Rights Law, we will ensure that all uniformed service members, retired and active, are protected from discrimination. New York is a city that will always stand by those who have served to protect us," said Public Advocate Letitia James.
New York State is home to nearly 900,000 veterans, 225,000 of whom call New York City home, and nearly 30,000 active duty military personnel and 30,000 National Guard and Reserve personnel statewide