Obama Proposal Would Ban Employers From Discriminating Against Unemployed

Discriminating Unemployed ObamaOne problem that has bedeviled many jobless workers is the inability to apply for jobs simply because some employers won't consider them.

Now, President Barack Obama wants to end the practice by making it illegal for employers to discriminate against job candidates because they are unemployed.

As part of the jobs bill that Obama announced earlier this month, it would be unlawful for companies that employ 15 or more workers to refuse to hire someone "because of the individual's status as unemployed," The New York Times reports.

Job applicants who feel that they've been denied a job because they are unemployed would be able to sue potential employers -- just as they would if a company discriminated against candidates because of their race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Obama says the legislation would end a needless practice that discriminates against people who through no fault of their own have lost jobs.

If implemented, the law would also prohibit employment agencies and websites from carrying advertisements for job openings that exclude people who are unemployed, according to the Times.

The practice of excluding unemployed people from applying for open positions was brought to light earlier this year by the National Employment Law Project.

An informal survey by the advocacy organization found that employers routinely used language such as applicants "must be currently employed" in ads placed in online job boards, including Monster.com, Craigslist, CareerBuilder.com and Indeed.com.

A poll earlier this year showed that 80 percent of adults described such practices as "very unfair," with another 10 percent saying that it's simply "unfair." Those responding to the poll supported by 2-to-1 a ban on companies who refuse to hire or consider qualified job applicants solely because they're currently unemployed.

Obama's proposal, as the Times notes, has met opposition from Republican lawmakers, who say the legislation would further burden employers and increase the number of frivolous lawsuits.

Still, with about 4.5 million Americans out of work for more than a year, the Obama administration is keen to do something to cajole companies to hire more workers.

And judging by public opinion, many Americans would like to see the proposal become law.


Next: Employers To Long-Term Jobless: 'You Need Not Apply'


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David Schepp

Staff Writer

David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.

Schepp holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Metropolitan State College of Denver.

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geovillager

I have a hard time believing anyone could disagree with this. What's stupid is placing job ads which ignore qualified candidates who have been unable to find tenable employment over the last several months though no fault of their own. Tax credits for hiring the unemployed would be fine, but that still wouldn't stop a noticable trend of unfair exclusion in the ever shrinking pool of job vacancies. So what if you have an employment gap on your resume? These days, not many people wouldn't. A gap is not necessarily a reflection on their talents or abilities and talking to qualified candidates to find out why it exists is easy enough. It is, indeed, the role of govt. to force employers to make decisions on fair hiring practices. When people are not given a equal opportunity to compete for jobs, who else is going to level the playing field? CEO's? Yeh..that's worked out so well in the past. There's a clear, easily discernable difference between not hiring someone based on meritiorious decisions within the company and excluding otherwise qualified job seerkers completely from the application process. Unless a business has an HR team that they hired in the 16th Century, I don't think law suits over this will be a realistic problem.

September 28 2011 at 8:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jrlesq22

This is so stupid it doesn't even deserve a comment. Employers have to be free to pick employees without worrying if they are going to get sued if they don't hire someone. Whether they are employed or unemployed is simply not a basis to hire someone but you can't force employers to make that choice. It would be better if the government offered a tax credit for hiring a long term unemployed person. I think these people in Washington DC don't have a clue about business or what constitutes good business practice. Obviously, this proposal was made purely for political purposes and doesn't have a chance of being enacted. In fact, most of Obama's proposals were made with the knowledge they wouldn't be enacted which was a terrible way to go about trying to help the economy.

September 28 2011 at 4:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
waypointc

What a BRILLIANT plan! Let's see. Now, I'm an employer with an opening. My ad has to exclude those words, and anyone who's unemployed, but not hired has the ability to contact a newly enlarged bureaucracy, further tax an overburdened court system, and force prospective employers to practice defensive measures AND prepare to defend however many lawsuits that may result.
So, as a potential employer, I can do the rational thing, and simply not list openings in public access areas, thus not meeting as many qualified candidates as are available. Then, I can rely on my network to find me some candidates, or use an agency to screen for me, and simply not interview anyone with a gap in their resume that is current. Or, as a better alternative, I can simply not hire.
You have to wonder if anyone in Government has ever heard of the law of unintended consequences.

September 27 2011 at 5:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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