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New York's Big Move to Help Former Convicts Build Better Lives

New legislation will make it harder for employers to discriminate against those looking to start over after past mistakes.

Councilman Jumaane Williams, who cosponsored the bill. Image via Flickr user Michael Fleshman

Although some employers aren’t “supposed to” discriminate against people with criminal backgrounds, the practice is widespread and deeply damaging. Nearly 90 percent of companies use criminal background checks, even though up to a quarter of Americans now have criminal backgrounds. That’s why New York City just passed The Fair Chance Act, a law that will prevent employers from reviewing an applicant’s criminal background until after the hiring offer has been made.

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NYC Passes Ban on Credit Checks for Most Job Applicants

The new law is said to be the most comprehensive of its kind.

An Interview. Image from SportSuburban via Flickr

A new law would ban employers in New York City from prying into the credit backgrounds of job applicants, finally shutting down what amounts to a major mechanism of legal discrimination in hiring practices. Raw Story reports the legislation was passed “overwhelmingly” by the City Council on Thursday, and is now awaiting the signature of Mayor Bill de Blasio. By passing the law, New York joins the 10 states and other municipalities, including Chicago, that have already banned the practice in most of its forms.

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Saks Fifth Avenue Thinks Transgender People Aren’t Covered by the Civil Rights Act

Despite having a nondiscrimination policy in place, the luxury retailer tries to throw out a former employee’s discrimination lawsuit citing “transsexuals are not a protected class” under 1964 law.

Leyth O. Jamal. Photo courtesy Leyth O. Jamal.

In 2012, Leyth O. Jamal, a transgender woman, was fired from a Saks Fifth Avenue in Texas. She filed a discrimination lawsuit against the luxury retailer in December 2014, citing that her dismissal was due to her refusal to stop expressing her gender identity while on the job. Jamal claims that management ordered her to “separate her home life from her work life,” demanding that she adhere to more masculine standards of dress and use the men’s restrooms. When she failed to comply, and dared to speak out against the hostilities she was facing, she was terminated.

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