Veteran’s Anti-Discrimination Act
NEW YORK, NY: On June 21, the New York City Council passed Intro. 1259, Council Member Jumaane D. Williams’ Veteran’s Anti-Discrimination Act. The bill, which was introduced with Public Advocate Letitia James, gives veterans and active military members direct protections under City law against discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations.
“As a society, we continually hold our veterans up as valuable protectors of the country, yet we repeatedly leave them vulnerable and undefended after they fulfill their end of the bargain. I’m proud to sponsor Intro 1259, which gives veterans and active military members direct protections under City law against discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations,” said Council Member Williams. “While their commitment solicits respect from us, it also at times makes them some of the most vulnerable members of our society. It is our duty as Americans and legislators to protect them, provide them with support, and make sure the promises being made to them are kept.”
The New York City Human Rights Law (HRL) prohibits discrimination against individuals on the basis of certain protected statuses in connection with employment, public accommodations and housing. This bill would add actual or perceived uniformed service as a protected status under the HRL.
“After putting their lives and their family’s stability on the line, the last thing a veteran should have to worry about is whether they are fairly considered for a job, a home, or a loan,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “Thanks to this legislation, our veterans will be guaranteed legal protections and safeguards.”
New York City is home to 225,000 veterans, however many have been unable to find stable employment or housing. Employers refuse to hire veterans for fear they will be sent overseas during employment, or falsely assume that because someone is a veteran, he or she suffers from mental health issues. Landlords refuse to rent to them because they too assume the veteran will be deployed away on a moment’s notice or are otherwise unable to afford the rent.
Intro 1259 would correct these wrongs by extending the Human Rights Law’s prohibitions against discrimination to our veterans and ensuring that New York City holds up our side of the bargain.
Council Member Jumaane D. Williams (center) delivering remarks alongside Commissioner of NYC Department of Veteran Services Brigadier General Loree Sutton (right) during an August 2016 press conference on Council Member Williams legislation, which adds local protections to the City’s human rights code for veterans and current service members. (L-R) Kristen Rouse, founding director of NYC Veterans Alliance; Council Member Jumaane D. Williams; Commissioner of NYC Department of Veteran Services Brigadier General Loree Sutton; Commissioner of the New York City Commission, Carmelyn P. Malalis. Photo Credit: John McCarten, NYC Council
“I would like to applaud Council Member Jumaane Williams’ support for our veterans community by introducing and advocating on behalf of this very important bill. This legislation places additional protections for our City’s veterans and active-duty service members as one of our City’s top legislative priorities,” added Commissioner of NYC Department of Veteran Services Brigadier General Loree Sutton. “The passage of Int. 1259 represents yet another bulwark of protection for our military service members who call The City of New York their home.”
“Our members made it clear that veterans and military members simply haven’t been recognized and protected in New York City, which is why this anti-discrimination bill has been our top legislative priority. We are grateful to our members who shared their stories of being denied housing and having difficulties with job interviews and civilian employers as part of this historic push for the most comprehensive local protection for veterans and military members in the country,” said Kristen Rouse, founding director of NYC Veterans Alliance. “Our sincere thanks go to Council Member Williams and the Public Advocate for championing this important bill and all those who co-sponsored it. This bill will have tangible, positive impact on the lives of veterans and military members in New York City for generations to come. This comprehensive legislation will also serve as a model for what veterans and elected leaders can do together across the United States.”
This bill goes into effect 120 days after it’s signed into law.