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Sex offender: Status hindered job search

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - Updated: 3:10 PM

By HEATHER NELLIS

Recorder News Staff

FONDA -- A registered sex offender is suing a cable equipment recovery company, alleging employment discrimination for jobs advertised on craigslist.

Hagaman resident Jeremy D. Zielinski's lawsuit said he couldn't fill out an online application to Ledger Activated Business Systems, Inc. after admitting he was a convicted felon.

He was reportedly busted years ago after sending child pornography to an undercover cop who posed as a teenage girl on the Web.

The complaint, filed at the Montgomery County Clerk's Office May 13, seeks unspecified monetary damages and recoupment of legal fees.

The suit says a craigslist ad last year sought field representatives to provide pick-up service of disconnected cable television equipment from customers in the Dutchess, Ulster and Westchester County areas.

It warned applicants were subject to a background check, the suit says, and that those with felony convictions would not be considered.

The warning reportedly deterred Zielinski from applying for that job early last year, but took a chance the next month for similar work in Rockland County.

That later application was squashed with the click of a button, Zielinski alleges.

"As soon as [Zielinski's] selection was made, the application immediately changed to display -- in large, red and black, bold, highlighted letters -- a message telling him 'We will not be able to hire you or accept your application,'" the suit reads.

Zielinski's lawyers say that practice is forbidden by New York executive law.

"[The company] did not consider the public policy of this state ... to encourage the licensure and employment of persons previously convicted of one or more criminal offenses," the suit says, insisting the company would have hired Zielinski if he was able to complete his application.

Zielinski says he was qualified for the work because when he was 16, he was a door-to-door salesman of cutlery and kitchen equipment for a year's time.

Zielinski, 29, has a criminal record from conduct he committed starting at age 17. On April 8, 2002, Zielinski was charged by Warren County authorities with attempted dissemination of indecent material to a minor, promoting a sexual performance by a child.

The suit says the charges were a "result of engaging in sexually explicit communications with, and transmitting child pornography to, an undercover police officer posing as a teenage girl on the Internet."

In February 2003, Zielinski fled the state, and while a fugitive, purchased electronics with counterfeit credit cards.

Zielinski was later indicted on the sex charges and bail jumping, and was additionally arrested by federal authorities related to credit card fraud.

He pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in November 2005, and in August 2006 pleaded guilty to the sex crimes. The state sex offender registry indicates Zielinski is a Level 2 offender.

Zielinski served a state prison term, and was released on Jan. 28, 2011. The suit says he's been a "law-abiding citizen" since, and notes none of the crimes he was convicted of involved violence, nor were they job-related.

"[The company] did not lawfully consider the seriousness of the offenses for which [he was] convicted when it terminated [his] employment application," the suit reads. "Had the company considered this, it would have been resolved in favor of hiring [him] for the positions advertised."

The suit further argues the company's practices disproportionately excludes male applicants, citing U.S. Department of Justice statistics that say men make up more than 80 percent of all persons with felony or violent convictions.

The company's policies and practices weren't job-related, or consistent with business necessity, the suit continues, and "less discriminatory alternative hiring practices were available."

The final argument of the suit was Zielinski "suffered mental anguish and was frustrated in his career prospects as a result of the company's actions. He lost sleep and felt embarrassed, unemployable, and depressed. Further, he was frustrated in his efforts to lawfully reintegrate into society, and was deprived of the opportunity to increase his references and work experience."

     

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