Aren't Veterans as Important as Raccoons?

nyc_raccoon.jpegOur city protects New Yorkers from discrimination against their age, citizenship, color, disability, gender, gender identity, marital or partnership status, national origin, pregnancy, race, religion, or sexual orientation. Our laws also prohibit employment discrimination based on arrest or incarceration record, caregiver status, or credit history. NYC government even has a new poster campaign showing that raccoons are also New Yorkers.

Aren't veterans and currently serving military at least as important as raccoons--or other New Yorkers? We need the NYC Council to pass a critical bill that shows us that #NYCVetsMatter too:

Intro. 1259—Prohibiting discrimination against veterans and military members 

As of today, here’s who has answered our call to support Intro. 1259:

Jumaane D. Williams and The Public Advocate (Ms. James) (Original Sponsors)

Donovan J. Richards

Vincent J. Gentile

Rafael L. Espinal, Jr.

Helen K. Rosenthal

Stephen T. Levin

Andy L. King

Corey D. Johnson

Ritchie J. Torres

James G. Van Bramer

Costa G. Constantinides

Mark Levine

Paul A. Vallone

Joseph C. Borelli

Eric A. Ulrich

Has your Council Member signed on yet?

Look up your Council Member HERE – and please call or email asking them to sign on and pass Intro. 1259!

Share your support on social media using #Pass1259 and #NYCVetsMatter!

Learn More! 

Read our recent op-ed in the New York Post on Intro. 1259

View the record of the NYC Council Hearing on Intro. 1259

See our public comments on Intro. 1259, crossposted (with Important New Yorker headshots added below) from NYC Councilmatic

a.jpgMy husband and I were turned away from several apartments we applied to because the landlords were "uncomfortable" with us using his VA disability payments as income. Although it was not overtly stated, it was clear that landlords were concerned about my husband being "one of those crazy vets." What they didn't know is that my husband's disability status was due to his cancer diagnosis, and we were simply trying to move closer to the hospital where he received treatment. Veterans and their families should not have to worry about hiding their disability status when looking for housing. Including veteran status under NYC's comprehensive human rights law is a step in the right direction to protect veterans and their families from discrimination in housing practices and employment, among a host of other issues. - Molly Pearl

b.jpgWhen I was medically retired and moved back to NYC after a decade away, I found the city to be remarkably non-veteran friendly. I had to pay twice the security deposit for an apartment because GI Bill and disability was not considered as income, full broker fees, and an addition to the monthly rent. Furthermore, jobs were tough because I was either overqualified or underqualified, and there was trepidation regarding medical appointments (with a medical retirement and a Purple Heart, it was apparently obvious to potential employers that I would need somewhat regular doctor visits). Including the veterans as a protected status would help overcome a lot of these issues, and would make transition more seamless for newly discharged servicemembers. - Elana Duffy

d.jpgWhen I tried to find an apartment on my GI Bill stipend, I found not one realtor or landlord was willing to rent to me and incorporate GI Bill benefits as earned income for my graduate school journey. This bill is long overdue as the general sense in the New York City community when it comes to integrating service members back into homes and apartments is a failure. I still had a hard time proving income to realtors with full time graduate school/GI bill benefits, part-time internship, while fighting to get a disability for military sexual trauma (which I ended up obtaining 26 months after active duty) - and apartments in NYC still will say it is not enough. It is time that we recognize that a GI Bill living stipend is what it is - a living stipend. This bill would lift the discrimination experienced by myself and so many veterans and allow veterans to focus on the much needed self-care during their post-service transition to civilian life. - Ksenia Voropaeva

c.jpgI was lucky to move to New York as a graduate student on a school-funded stipend. Still, it was tough to get an apartment, and my roommate and I needed every bit of co-signing help we could come by. Veterans' GI Bill and disability income should definitely qualify as income for my former comrades-in-arms. - Teresa Fazio

e.jpgI am a veteran and a NYC resident. I proudly display my veteran status on my resume because many employers understand the value of military service and the excellent character traits that can be attained while serving. However, many employers are also concerned with negative traits that they perceive can be attained. I have been asked in interviews if I have served in combat, how many people have I killed, etc. I always feel uncomfortable during this line of questioning because it makes me feel that my answers are being evaluated for an indication of experiences that may cause PTSD/anger issues/depression. I do not want to be judged on how my past experiences may affect my current level of performance. - Jennie Fisher

f.jpgIt's easy to assume that Veteran's rights are a given, that we as a society openly embrace them and are mindful of the challenges they face when returning home. Challenges many others face with housing, employment and pursuing high education. To be honest, even I thought those rights were obvious and didn't see a need for Veteran's to be considered a protected class on the city and state level. That is, until it happened to me. Just less than one year ago, I applied for an entry level job as a Production Assistant with a prominent public media outlet. During the interview, when the issue of scheduling came up, I diligently mentioned that I was in the NY Army National Guard and would need minor scheduling conflicts around drill dates, though I would do everything I could to make the time up prior to leaving. The Executive Producer, the one hiring me, on the project promptly replied that she "would have a real problem with that" and my being in the Guard "may not work for her." I was subsequently not offered the position for unspecified reasons. Ironically, it was for a documentary about wounded Veterans and the advances in military medicine since the start our most recent wars. Wars in which I deployed to combat twice. Obviously, friends and supporters told me that laws like the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 prevented this kind of casual hiring discrimination, but in reality, this would be a hard thing for me follow up on legally. I could not afford a lawyer or the time and effort it would take to seek justice, particularly against a well staffed and otherwise highly respected outlet. The simple fact is employers either don't know, or can afford not to care, about USERRA and are themselves protected by a system that has become ambivalent about Veterans where it counts. It has done some good, but not enough. Amending The New York City Human Rights Law, establishing Veterans as a protected class on the local level, will send a clear message that our returning servicemen and women are a vital ingredient to the economy and growth of the largest city in America. - Dan Gorman

g.jpgAn Air Force veteran myself, I'm very pleased to see this proposed legislation and hope the City Council will adopt and include military/veteran status as a protected class in and throughout the city's Administrative Code. New York is an incredibly competitive place: housing and employment are just some areas where, if discrimination occurs, it is the difference in being denied housing, or being denied employment. The proposed bill goes a long way towards making sure that veterans status does not work against those individuals who have served the country. - Kent Eiler

h.jpgI think uniformed service is a great add as a protected class. Most people know we shouldn't ask someone's age, whether a woman is planning to start a family or what religion a candidate practices. I venture many people, even in HR functions, don't understand you can't ask if someone has PTSD or if they'll deploy again. By adding uniformed service, landlords, businesses and other organizations will pay more attention to providing fair and balanced treatment, as well as educating themselves on the value of employing veterans.  - Meaghan Smith

i.jpgAs a reservist, I know what it feels like to be asked by a potential employer or landlord, "you won't have to deploy, will you?" and then not get that call back. And I also know what it's like to be a New Yorker who returns home from deployment only to be left behind at my civilian job, with my employer not understanding USERRA protections for reserve and national guard members. Especially at a time when we have prolonged military engagements that rely on reserve forces to deploy again and again--we MUST protect the men and women who serve here at the local level. There's virtually no way to hold anyone accountable by filing a complaint in DC or getting a lawyer to sue based on hazy USERRA laws that few people understand. We need our laws here at home to protect us and give us recourse to address discrimination as it occurs. - Kristen Rouse

j.jpgAdding uniformed service status as a protected class under NYC's non-discrimination statutes would be a great step forward for the military and veteran community here in NYC. Though it's true that many of these discrimination issues are already covered under state or federal law, this bill would give members of the community another, local, avenue to get their discrimination claims addressed. Many other towns and cities across the United States, including the cities of Chicago, Boston, Miami, and Seattle, have already included veterans and military personnel in their anti-discrimination ordinances, and it's imperative that New York City keeps pace with our fellow progressive cities by protecting this community and promoting fairness and equal opportunity for more New Yorkers. We have a huge number of veterans here in the City of New York, and it's time for the City Council to recognize that community and the discrimination they face by passing this bill. - Olivia Meier

Aren't we at least as important as raccoons? Let's #Pass1259 because #NYCVetsMatter! 

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