|Is discrimination against the unemployed partly responsible for the nation’s high unemployment? Some assert that there is convincing evidence that employers are discriminating against the unemployed. In other words, when reviewing applicants some employers are only electing to interview candidates for vacant positions that are currently employed. In response to this observed phenomena, Democratic members of congress introduced legislation to prevent discrimination against unemployed workers. Representatives Rosa DeLauro’s of Connecticut and Congressman Hank Johnson of Georgia introduced the Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011 (2501), which would prohibit employers and employment agencies from discriminating against unemployed job-seekers by refusing to consider them for employment. According to Representatives Rosa DeLauro’s press release—“In today’s tough economy, more than 6 million Americans have been out of work for more than six months. But companies across the country have begun to require current employment to be considered for available positions, and
these discriminatory practices are eliminating employment opportunities. The Fair Employment Opportunity Act will prevent employers and employment agencies from refusing to consider or offer employment to someone who is
unemployed, or including language in any job advertisements or postings that states unemployed individuals are not qualified. A recent survey, conducted by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), of four of the top job search websites, CareerBuilder.com, Indeed.com, Monster.com, and CraigsList.com, found over 150 job advertisements that specified applicants must be currently employed. And the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey shows that there are 4.7 unemployed workers for every 1 job opening.” The legislation introduced by US Representatives Rosa DeLauro’s of Connecticut and Hank Johnson of Georgia , if passed by the House and Senate, would apply to employers with over fifteen (15) employees and would provide protection to job applicants who are discriminated against because they are unemployed. Key provisions of the Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011 include but are not limited to:(a) Employers – It shall be an unlawful practice for an employer to–
– any provision stating or indicating that an person’s status as unemployed disqualifies the individual for a job; and
– any provision stating or indicating that an employer will not consider an applicant for employment based on that individual’s status as unemployed; and
3.Direct or request that an employment agency take an individual’s status as unemployed into account in screening or referring applicants for employment.
Representatives Rosa DeLauro’s press release aptly states that, “In a tough job market, where workers are competing against tens and sometimes hundreds of others for every available job opening, it is unjust for employers to discriminate against those who are unemployed. We have seen ample evidence that unemployed individuals are increasingly falling prey to discriminatory practices reducing their opportunities to be considered for a job. The Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011 would prohibit employers and employment agencies from discriminating against unemployed job-seekers, and ensure that all Americans have the same opportunities for employment.
Discrimination against the unemployed – especially the long-term unemployed – in job advertisements and hiring practices flies in the face of what we stand for as a nation: Equal opportunity for all,” said Rep. Johnson. The Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011 will help us level the playing field and get people back to work.”
Sources: Representatives Rosa DeLauro website, HR 2501, Representative Johnson website, and opencongress.org. Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art