N.Y.: New NYC Law Allows ‘Matched Pair Testing’ in Investigating Hiring Bias

By Rosemarie Lally May 18, 2015

Legislation creating an employment discrimination testing and investigation program designed to root out unlawful hiring practices was signed into law April 20, 2015, by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The measure, passed March 31 by the City Council, allows the New York City Human Rights Commission to organize and conduct at least five investigations of hiring discrimination over the course of a year. The first investigation must be launched by Oct. 1, 2015.

Under the law, the commission is allowed to use “matched pair testing” in investigating the hiring practices of local employers, labor organizations, and employment agencies. This investigatory method uses two testers with similar credentials, but who differ with respect to a characteristic protected under the New York City Human Rights Law– including age, race, gender, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, marital status, partnership status, or disability – to inquire about or apply for the same job with an employer.

The testing is intended to determine whether the targeted employers are discriminating in their screening and hiring practices. The new law marks the first time the commission has been authorized to proactively search for discrimination rather than simply investigate filed discrimination complaints.

The commission is required to report its results to the City Council by March 1, 2017, and to refer any discriminatory practices to the Law Enforcement Bureau for further investigation.

Rosemarie Lally, J.D., is a freelance legal writer and editor based in Washington, D.C.

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