The National Employment Law Project (NELP) recently published a report stating that unemployed individuals are victims of hiring discrimination. The report coincides with introduction in the U.S. House of Representatives of the Fair Employment Opportunity Act. The bill was introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Rep. Henry Johnson Jr. (D-GA) and would prohibit employers from screening out or excluding applicants because they are unemployed.
The NELP report claims that a number of heavily trafficked job posting websites included ads stipulating that applicants “must be currently employed”, although they did not disclose any actual examples of ads that were posted.
The Fair Employment Opportunity Act would make it unlawful to refuse to consider hiring an individual based on their status as unemployed; to limit, segregate or classify individuals in any manner that may limit their access or consideration of jobs because of their status as unemployed; or to publish, in print or on the internet or in any other medium, an advertisement or announcement for any job that includes any provision stating or indicating that an individual’s status as unemployed disqualifies the individual for a job, or any provision indicating the employer will not consider individuals for employment based on unemployed status.
The U.S. EEOC held a hearing earlier this year to determine whether employers are refusing to hire unemployed job seekers. According to the EEOC, such practices could violate EEO laws by having a discriminatory disparate impact on protected classes of unemployed individuals.
Employers are advised to review all job postings and practices, keeping in mind that considering an applicant’s employment status could be considered discrimination.