Starting this June 11, a new law in New York City will prohibit employers from discriminating in hiring practices against the unemployed, which the law defines as individuals "not having a job, being available for work, and seeking employment."

The New York City Commission on Human Rights has been charged with fielding complaints and reports of discrimination. At the commission's disposal will be cease-and-desist and must-hire orders, along with fines of $100 a day for noncompliance and civil penalties of up to $250,000 (and jail time) for employers whose actions are found to be "willful, wanton or malicious."

The legislation affects businesses with four or more employees, and is similar to laws in effect in New Jersey, Oregon and the District of Columbia.

The bill (814-A) was passed over the veto of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who observed: "I can't think of any rational employer who wouldn't want to know what [an applicant] has been doing for a period of time."